Pete Sixsmith‘s opinions are much in demand. Once again “The Observer” approached him for a half term report which he supplied before yesterday’s fruitless trip to the Etihad, though I don’t suppose what went on there would have affected his responses. Now the paper is available in all good newsagents (and some not so good ones) we are free to reproduce the Q&A here. You can find the original article by following this link.
1. Are you pleased with the season so far? (Please include a mark out of 10)
As usual it’s looking like another grim slog towards the elysian fields of 16th or 17th. The Return of The Dutchman was a serious error and we are left counting the cost of that. The arrival of Sam Allardyce gives us some hope of avoiding at least one season in The English Football League. There is still much work to be done and we can but hope Sam is able to give the club the stability it needs and the (relative) success that it craves. Mark so far; 4/10
2. Who have been your stars, and your biggest underperformers/flops?
All have been impressed with Yann M’Vila, who has performed consistently well since arriving on loan from Rubin Kazan. Duncan Watmore, with his degree and his 4 year contract, gives us hope for the future. Jeremaine Lens has rarely looked like an £8m player, Ola Toivonen flatters to deceive and Jack Rodwell has been mostly missing – no change there then. Fabio Borini looks a shadow of the bright, vibrant player he was 2 years ago.
3. Are you happy with the manager? (Please include a mark out of 10)
He is a good fit for Sunderland – down to earth, gritty and not too attractive to look at. He can and does change his tactics, sometimes early in the game, which may suggest that he occasionally picks the wrong team. He works hard with the players and got the fans onside by beating Newcastle in his first home game. When Advocaat left, he really was the only sensible choice available for us. But he has a huge task in getting us away from the relegation zone. 6/10 so far
4. Who should he sign in January? (Please give us a few problem areas or specific names you’d like signed – a few sentences on this one!)
I have seen a lot of (big) money wasted in January windows – Alfred N’Diaye, Danny Graham, Radoslav Prica – so I have no idea. He has been spotted in France looking at central defenders and we certainly need some reinforcements in that area. A top class centre forward would be lovely, but I am sure there are another ten clubs who feel the same. As usual, we will probably borrow someone from the big boys.
5. And … If your manager was a famous cartoon character, who would he be? (eg Droopy/Top Cat/Charlie Brown/Homer Simpson/He-Man/The Grinch/Dangermouse/Eric Cartman etc etc…)
Put Droopy, with his jowly, hangdog expression and Fred Flintstone, with his eternal optimism and large body mass into a blender and you might come up with something akin to Sam.