One out and one in as Charlie Wyke unveiled

Though the club hasn’t realised anywhere near the £14 million that Everton apparently offered a mere 24 months ago it looks as though Lamine Kone’s hefty wages are no longer something the club needs to worry about as his loan deal to RC Strasbourg seems to be going through. (Now officially announced.) On top of that it appears that the French club will be paying a loan fee with an option to sign in a year’s time.

I don’t know if securing this deal was necessary before the club could announce the signing of a much needed centre forward but finally they have confirmed something that websites everywhere announced well ahead of his official unveiling. But now they have may we at Salut! Sunderland roll out the welcome mat for the eleventh time this summer and join in with the salutations for a much needed addition to the forward line. Read what the club has to say here.

Charlie Wyke in his Carlisle days

Although an injury suffered in a preseason friendly means we won’t be seeing him lead the line for a few weeks, the squad is beginning to look somewhere like what the manager wants. In a reversal of what we are often told about players coming to live in the North East, it has been suggested that Teesider Wyke was keen to move back to the land of three rivers, though Bradford is hardly a million miles away.

Doubtless there are still efforts being made for further incomings and outgoings but when all our injured players regain fitness, including the unfortunate Duncan Watmore, the revamped squad is looking more than capable for the challenge of the upcoming campaign, though I’m pretty sure a winger and another proven striker would be on the manager’s wish list.

Cattermole may yet go. Oviedo may yet go too and whilst O’Nien looks like a player who can step into the Cattermole role, it may be necessary to bring in another full back but with Love, Matthews and James and Flanagan all able to play there it may not be vital. The noises coming from the Academy of Light via the owner and manager are suggesting that both Cattermole and Oviedo are showing a good attitude and will feature as long as SAFC retains their registration.

The speculation regarding George Honeyman’s future seems to have ended with his appointment as captain. He is one of the few regulars who have featured over the past two seasons in Jack Ross’s plans and as someone who has been with the club since the age of ten he is doubtless keen to help drive the side onwards and upwards.

It’s all looking pretty positive. Win on Saturday and we go top of the division – for at least a couple of hours. Let’s hope it happens and that we can stay there for the whole season. This is the start of a new chapter and with Wyke’s signature meaning we have signed a whole new team, things may not happen at breakneck speed.

However after several years of underachievement things are looking brighter – but how many times have we said that!

 

 

How Kone can keep up with the Lads if loaned to Strasbourg

The defender formerly known as a hero of Big Sam’s survival season

Tongue in cheek, Monsieur Salut offers our outgoing Paris-born Ivorian defender a useful tip should he be anxious to follow Sunderland from loan exile abroad …

With reports suggesting Lamine Kone’s ultimately wretched time at Sunderland coming to an end, albeit in unsatisfactory fashion with a mere loan to last season Ligue 2 champions in France, Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace, Salut! Sunderland has news that will surely gladden his heart and barely disturb the small change in his pocket.

Read moreHow Kone can keep up with the Lads if loaned to Strasbourg

Sixer’s Middlesbrough Soapbox: fighting spirit, last minute equaliser. Better than nowt?

Malcolm Dawson writes…….well the Men and Women’s curling both proved to be a huge but not unexpected disappointment. I am becoming a bit fatalistic now in my sports watching and rarely expect those I want to do well to come up with the goods anymore. In my continuing refusal to actually spend any money following Sunderland, whilst the current owner remains, I didn’t go to yesterday’s game. I had listened to most of the Barnes and Benno commentary, but resigned to another defeat I missed the last minute and thought we had lost until I switched on Final Score. Like Wrinkly Pete I have no sympathy for the multitude who walk out early then miss the pulsating climax, yet here I was doing the auditory equivalent yesterday. Still whilst a point is better than nothing it’s not as good as three. (I’m stating the obvious in the hope that someone will notice and offer me a job as a TV pundit.)

Snatching a point in the dying minutes of time added on is much more uplifting than having the lead hoiked away, but did it leave Pete Sixsmith feeling that it had been a grand day out? Let’s find out…….

MIDDLESBROUGH

As we trooped out of the Stadium at about 9pm due to all the added time, the general consensus was that Callum McManaman’s welcome equaliser was “too little, too late”. Points wise, it just about kept us in touch with the other potential Checkatrade Trophy entrants in the relegation zone and it took the smirk off the faces of the Middlesbrough supporters, but it was another opportunity lost to drag ourselves into the heady heights of 22nd in a league that is competitive but not very good.

At least there was fight and spirit (although Jake Clarke-Salter took that a bit far) and after the last two wretched home defeats against mid table teams, we gave one of the so-called “better” sides a real scare. Ultimately, our appalling defensive habits let us down again. We have scored three goals four times this season which has earned us four points. That’s not very good is it!

There are some positives to take from this. We looked solid in the first half. Asoro took his goal well and looks a good player. Premier League scouts will have been alerted to his potential. We may make some money out of him to help pay off Ellis Short’s personal debt.

Joel Asoro starting to find his feet

Paddy McNair had an impressive 41 minutes before limping off. Injured by a tackle from Lee Cattermole. He had been a very influential figure in the centre of midfield. He got about the field well and made some telling interceptions and some lung bursting runs. Should he tire of football (as I am doing) there is a career for him in the second row at Leeds Rhinos. It is to be hoped that his injury is not deep seated.

Cattermole showed that there is still some life left in the old dog. The legs are struggling at times and some of the passing leaves a little to be desired, but he and McNair blotted out Besic, Downing and Grant Leadbitter up to half time. Our former captain still found time to spray some decent passes around and even had a couple of on target shots blocked by desperate Boro defenders as we lay siege in the closing stages.

Williams and McManaman made positive impressions when they came on and both scored. Williams celebrated with the support while McManaman decided to continue his feud with Tony Pulis and gave the impression that that was more important than salvaging a point for his team. Pulis’s comments after the game were interesting – “I didn’t pick him, Sheffield Wednesday didn’t pick him and he’s not getting picked here. Maybe he has some problems.”

But there are the usual negatives. The defending for all three goals was truly awful. Kone (who did actually strengthen the back three/four) stood too far off Bamford and allowed him to turn and equalise. There was a lack of communication between keeper and defenders for the penalty that put them ahead for the first time and John O’Shea miscalculated for the third one, allowing the impressive Bamford to put the Smoggies ahead again.

The lack of cohesion between goalkeeper and back line is a real worry. Lee Camp is an experienced player who was brought in to restore some stability but looks no better than Ruiter or Steele. He was slow off his line when he gave away the penalty, ignored Cattermole’s indication of where Grant Leadbitter was going to put the kick (Catts was right, Camp was wrong) and does not inspire a great deal of confidence in the support. Coleman has a dilemma here; stick with Camp, restore Steele or take a chance with Max Stryjek. I suspect he will choose the first option.

He also has an option at the back now that Clarke-Salter is out for three games. His tackle was a straight red and as I protested (more in anger than conviction), the quiet, thoughtful man who has the misfortune to sit next to me said, “The referee was given a decision to make.” He got it right. Coleman now has to decide whether to restore Browning to a back three or stick with O’Shea and Kone until one of them implodes.

Chris ah aaah…….Saviour of the Universe????
Rugby League man the Blessed Brian

Flash Gordon had 14 hours to save the universe and, aided by Brian Blessed, managed to achieve it. Chris Coleman and his disparate band of loanees, free transfers, young up and comers and grizzled old pros has 12 games to save us from another relegation and what could be the closure of large areas of the Stadium of Light as crowds below 20,000 would be the norm next season. Fleetwood and Gillingham won’t bring many with them.

I targeted a possible seven points from these last three games. We got one. I’ll target one point from the next three. We may end up with seven. Or none…………

If there is any copyright claim, not answered by ‘fair use’ exemptions, on the images used to illustrate this report, please make us aware and we will add credits or remove as requested.

Sixer says: Look through any window and see Sunderland’s changing squad

Pete Sixsmith then (as in not so long ago)

John McCormick writes: Pete Sixsmith is a man of action. As soon as the deadline passed he sprang to work, with the result that this arrived early on Friday.  We held it back a day to give our readers time to reflect on the goings-on at this club of ours.

By now you’ll have had time to form your own opinion, as I have. I wouldn’t be surprised if our opinions change as the season progresses but it’s the here and now which matters, and here, now, is Pete’s analysis.

I find myself in broad agreement, and optimistic. How about you? Let’s have your opinions too.

Read moreSixer says: Look through any window and see Sunderland’s changing squad

Sixer’s Norwich Soapbox: Players are showing commitment to the club and to the support

Pete Sixsmith then (as in not so long ago)

John McCormick writes: Pete Sixsmith has finally made it home from seat U2 in the Carrow Road football stadium (hence the reference in the introduction to Saturday’s Sevens).  He probably has just enough time to grab some rest before he heads off to Sheffield. But before he gets his head down here he is with the heads up on a game more than a few of us expected to be difficult.

As ever, it’s a fine piece of writing. The bonus is that this time it’s about an excellent Sunderland performance:

Read moreSixer’s Norwich Soapbox: Players are showing commitment to the club and to the support

Moyes on the boys v Spurs: It’s a good point

Jake’s take on this season’s manager

John McCormick writes: I had a slow-to-stop feed and couldn’t get the audio from the SAFC website so I have very little to go on. I did think this was a hard fought point and that we made, and needed, our luck.

What of Mr. Moyes, who had a ringside seat with no stuttering, pauses or (thankfully) crashes. Here’s what he said after the game:

Read moreMoyes on the boys v Spurs: It’s a good point

Pickford and Kone: must-keeps or let-goes to Everton, West Ham, elsewhere?

Kone: yet again the subject of transfer talk
Kone: yet again the subject of transfer talk

Monsieur Salut says: the international break makes me twitchy. No serious interest in the football, lots of time to worry about Sunderland. So let’s have a poll …

Are we, then, resigned to Jordan Pickford becoming another Jordan Henderson, red-and-white through and through but grasping, understandably, at opportunities higher up the footballing ladder than where Sunderland find themselves placed?

Do we reluctantly accept that pressure from Everton, or West Ham or someone else with pots of money to spend and heads to turn, will lure away Lamine Kone in January?

And could we live with one or both departing provided – are you listening, Mr Short? – adequate replacements are secured before anyone is let out of the door? So not just Vito Mannone fit again – though that matters, too – but people coming in, and coming in as a pre-condition of anyone else’s departure.

JP: local lad made very good indeed
JP: local lad made very good indeed

Read morePickford and Kone: must-keeps or let-goes to Everton, West Ham, elsewhere?

The only whinge from Bournemouth 1-2 SAFC: don’t drive Lamine Kone away

OGB
OGB

On Saturday, as remarked upon by everyone including Bournemouth fans, Sunderland’s support was magnificent.

I came across one little Cherries snipe about the one-minute silence being interrupted at our end and even that was simply wrong. The noise wasn’t much and came entirely from the concourse, where no referee’s whistle signalling a tribute was about to begin could have been heard and no one can have had any idea what was happening on the pitch. And even then, people near me went “shhhh …” as if the innocently noisy could hear.

But I do have one whinge …

Read moreThe only whinge from Bournemouth 1-2 SAFC: don’t drive Lamine Kone away

SAD sweet dreamer – it’s just one of those things you put down to experience

Following on from M Salut’s look at how Seasonal Adjustment Disorder (SAD) is affecting the Stadium of Light faithful, Malcolm Dawson sums up his own thoughts on why he is feeling SAD (season approaching disaster). Don’t expect anything fresh or remarkably insightful as we’ve been here more than once. As Sweet Sensation once said, not long after Sunderland had been succeeded by Liverpool as the F.A. Cup holders, it’s just one more thing to put down to experience.

View From3

SAD – Seasonal Adjustment Disorder or Sunderland Are Dire?

The BBC has a feel-good reality show called “DIY SOS”. In the early days TV presenter Nick Knowles, a team of builders and a designer would go along and take three days to fix up a room where botched efforts at home improvements had gone wrong. This might have been a kitchen, a bathroom or a lounge which was virtually unusable, but in a house where the rest was perfectly habitable. Then it morphed into “DIY SOS – The Big Build” and now targets families whose home is failing to meet the specific needs of one of the occupants and creating extra stress for the carers. These days the original team are supplemented by an army of local tradespeople who rip out the entire interior, build an extension and effectively create a brand new house in the shell of the old one, in nine days.

As a metaphor for the state of SAFC this might not be the best, but as I struggle to come to terms with the state of things on Wearside it’s the best I can offer. You see for the past few seasons when relegation was avoided it was obvious the club was in need of a big build – a big build that wasn’t forthcoming. But last season was different. It seemed as the season drew to a close, that the structure was solid and with only a few tweaks and one or two additions here and there, we would be in good shape. Then as the summer drew to a close it became apparent that the house was collapsing and it was back to the big build.

In a comment on Sixer’s Soapbox, Ifos mentioned the flat atmosphere prior to the West Brom game with supporters already resigned to another year of struggle. That’s certainly how I feel but what makes this year different to the past few is the disappointment of falling from a perceived position of relative strength to the familiarity of the perennial struggle.

We had a decent team in May. One which was stronger than the sum of its parts, and bore fruit only as the last campaign drew to a close. Let’s not forget Sam Allardyce’s first few months in charge brought little in the way of success but things were to change once the January signings bedded in. The balance of the team was better and suddenly players who had seemed a liability in late 2015 blossomed and became important cogs in a successful machine. Suddenly Kaboul, Yedlin, van Aanholt became integral members of the starting eleven with team mates implementing a system which covered their weaknesses. And Defoe found form. Team spirit was excellent. The players knew their roles, supported and fought for each other. Even fringe players like Toivonen, N’Doye, Lens and Rodwell gave their all when called upon and showed their enthusiasm for the club when sat on the bench.

It was obvious the summer would be crucial but the plan was simple. The brickwork was sound and all we needed was a bit of tarting up. Buy M’Vila, buy Yedlin, get in a decent forward, provide cover in the key positions of full back and centre back and get the likes of Matthews, Bridcutt, Buckley etc. off the payroll. A sensible pre-season training camp, and a series of increasingly testing friendlies and we’d be fit to go.

Might he still return?
Might he still return?

It would be easy to say that June 27th and England’s defeat to Iceland was the first crack in the building. Martin Bain wasn’t in post and the transfer window hadn’t opened but at that stage Allardyce was still in charge and not linked with the England job.

I sensed that Allardyce was getting frustrated with the lack of transfer activity even before the F.A. came a calling (how well that worked out!) but as he left after the Hartlepool game the squad seemed better prepared than for many a long year. When Moyes came in to replace him we still had a firm foundation and a structurally sound framework. Now it looks as if we are about to be condemned.

The reasons are pretty obvious and it’s not easy to come up with anything new. Perhaps that’s why comments in response to articles on the site have not been so forthcoming of late. We are beginning to sound like a corrupted MP4 file, the more modern equivalent of a scratched record or damaged CD.

Injuries have been devastating. Early on the loss of Cattermole, Larsson, Kirchhoff and Jones ripped the heart out of a team where M’Vila and Yedlin had not been resigned or replaced, before the season got underway. Then Borini, Manonne and Kirchhoff again saw players integral to Sam’s great escape team unavailable.

Transfer business was disappointing with mainly other teams’ cast offs our apparent targets. Two young players who weren’t going to feature for Man Utd were signed together with Januzaj on loan after he also had failed to make significant impact at Old Trafford. Djilobodji and Denayer couldn’t even make the bench at their respective clubs and came to us after loan spells at Werder Bremen and Celtic. Pienaar and Anichebe, free agents who had been released by former clubs hardly smacked of ambition and Mika’s late arrival was a necessity. Manquillo who although not setting the Stadium of Light on fire is at least as good as Yedlin and Ndong who looks as though he will be OK in the M’Vila role, are simply direct replacements rather than players who add depth to the squad. In the end the club managed to reduce the wage bill by offloading or releasing players who were never going to feature, but the loss of Kaboul was as sudden as it was disappointing and personally, I think the decision to let Lens go out on loan may be one that the club will regret. 

The Kone situation didn’t help but having secured a massive long term deal he doesn’t look like the immense presence he was last season. We need him firing on all cylinders and give the supporters (who could have turned against him but haven’t) something to cheer about again.

Moyes has problems not all of his own making. Can he do what Sam did and turn things around as he spends more time in the job? Let’s hope so. At the moment it looks like he has an unbalanced squad, lacking in sufficient quality to cope with an atrocious run of injuries, to choose from. Can he find a winning formula with the players he has at his disposal? Will he strike lucky and find that winning formula through chance? In his one start Khazri looked more threatening to my eyes than Januzaj. Maybe there is a clause in the loan deal that requires the Albanian Belgian to start a certain percentage of games, but like Kone we could do with a on form Khazri. Has Moyes stumbled on something with Denayer at the back freeing up van Aanholt to become a more attacking threat? Can Love and McNair offer something in midfield that as yet they haven’t as defenders? Allardyce found a way to get his squad performing. Moyes needs to do the same.

Is the club in more dire straits having to find money for nothing?
Is the club in more dire straits having to find money for nothing?

Things may also be compounded by the Ricky Alvarez situation. Should the club be forced to pay £10 million for a player we didn’t want it will obviously impact on the funds that are made available to Moyes in January and it is unclear who will have to meet his wages for the past 14 months or so. What a mess!

I don’t think the manager’s negative comments and hang dog body language helps things but Moyes is in a lose/lose situation there. We all see through managers who try to put a positive spin on disappointing performances. We supporters aren’t daft. We can see he has problems and it’s his job to try and sort things out. We need to be patient and give him the opportunity to get us back on course but I suspect we will carry on being SAD as the clocks go back and the days grow shorter.

Roll on the winter solstice and the January window.

Everton Who are You?’: ‘teaching my daughter the cleaner Goodison songs’

Lydia with small Evertonian
Lydia with small but tuneful Evertonian

Football, marathon running, academia and cheese … that’s the heady mix that sums up Lydia Bleasdale-Hill*, our Everton Who are You? interviewee. Lydia, a season ticket holder for 20 years, considers Sunderland her favourite away ground, think David Moyes will – just about – get us on the right track and rates Kevin Kilbane’s cover version of Ice, Ice Baby, whose original performer, Robert Matthew Van Winkle aka Vanilla Ice, is a Texan rapper and almost old enough to work for Salut! Sunderland. Nowt to do with football but we also latched on to Lydia’s professed love of cheese (M Salut’s favourites being Tomme de Savoie, Morbier and the exceedingly smelly Livarot, plus a good strong Cheddar) …

Salut! Sunderland: We’ve had our usual bad start to the season, no wins under your old manager and an annoying transfer window. Do you get the feeling Sunderland’s time is finally up or is David Moyes the man to turn things around?

Lydia Bleasdale-Hill: I think there are enough teams in and around you to see you right, but I think it’ll be incredibly close (even with Anichebe…). I saw Pienaar talked Moyes up as a man to avoid relegation – I think there’s truth in that, but he’s going to need someone on the pitch who is incredibly intelligent in how he leads others. I’ll probably get laughed out of here on my first answer here, but a critical player for us in that respect was Phil Neville. At best he was 6/10 as a player, but he was great in keeping people together. My season ticket seat used to be near the pitch, behind a goal, and he rarely shut up (particularly in coaching younger players). He knew the approach to take with everyone – some needed a kick up the backside, others a friendly nudge – and he rarely celebrated a goal (instead, he would leg it to Moyes to get instructions for how we would set up post-goal). In his peak period for us, we would see an immediate dip in form (including organisation) when he was out of the side due to injury. I think Moyes quickly needs to identify who that player is for him (and keep players fit – hopefully he has progressed since his rumoured archaic training methods, which were often blamed for our players looking knackered at the start of the season).

What about Everton? A strong start for you, two wins and a draw. Were the club right to sack Martinez and even righter to appoint Koeman?

Right on both counts. Martinez had lost both the fans and the players last season, and I was dreading the final home game – he didn’t deserve the reception I knew he was going to get. Not a bad manager and not a bad man, but lost his (stubborn) way without a plan B.

Under Koeman it seems things have already tightened up: we don’t look panicked at the back (even when Jagielka and Williams played together for the first time) and he appears to be instilling a stronger work ethic in areas where it was needed (praising but also publicly noting who needs to work even harder).

Can you recapture relatively recent glory times and will there be pots of money from Farhad Moshiri, previously a shareholder at Arsenal to presumably hardly a lifelong Evertonian, to make it happen?

Judging by our attempts on the final day of the transfer window, who knows! We look willing to spend at least, although I still don’t expect buckets from Moshiri. Having said that, I think there has been a lot of unnecessary moaning when you look at our summer overall: a good deal for Stones, Lukaku retained, and a decent clutch of players in.

OGB
Jake: ‘oh won’t you stay – and not just until January?’ …

You wanted Lamine Kone as badly as we wanted to keep him. What has been your take on the protracted will-he-won’t-he saga?

I’m probably unusual in that I paid little attention – the transfer window shenanigans bore me to death.

And your other business. Did you welcome the purchase of Ashley Williams and who else is going to be important for you this season?

Delighted with Williams. Jagielka isn’t a captain for me – quite withdrawn – so having the experience and leadership of Williams will help (although I don’t expect Jagielka to lose the captaincy). Gueye looks great early doors – tidy, reads the game well, and strong – and I think Lukaku will flourish once he’s back to full fitness (although hopefully Baines will be kept on penalties in future cup semi-finals!) Steckelenburg has been an unexpected joy to have in goal.

Bring us up to date on Goodison, a ground many Sunderland fans really like as it inevitably recalls Roker Park, but obviously outdated?

We’re on rumour number 6292 when it comes to a potential new site for the ground. I’ll believe it when I see it.

What have been your highlights and low points as a supporter?

Highlights: watching Jermaine Beckford score a superb* solo effort against Chelsea in May 2011. My seven week old daughter was asleep on me – at her first game – and I’ve never celebrated a goal so quietly or gently! Having been told off by a lad I went to school with for thinking it was safe enough to take her, I’m made up I ignored his judging and can tell her about it now.
*or with a few lucky bounces, depending on your perspective

Being behind the goal when Rooney scored *that* goal against Arsenal. I heard the clink of it hitting the goal – there was a split second of stunned silence, before pandemonium.

Being adopted by various people in my stand (now the Sir Phillip Carter stand, formerly the Park End), when I started going by myself aged 15 (more on that later). They all kept an eye out for me, but never belittled me.

Others which spring to mind: Gareth Farrelly (who loved a long distance effort, which usually ended up in Runcorn), somehow managing to score a beauty (at my end) against Coventry to secure our place in the league (sorry again, Bolton fans); hearing Duncan Ferguson score against United in 2005 (on a crackly Walkman radio on a train); Gosling scoring against Liverpool in the Cup (the Tic Tac goal, which passed me by until the next morning); Cahill consistently being Cahill; Jagielka winning the Cup semi against United on pens.

Low points: given that I started supporting Everton in 1995-96, there have been a number to choose from…getting beat 5-1 in Bucharest (when I flew on a plane which had mismatched tiles on the tailwing – good old Everton travel partners); a 2-1 defeat by Shrewsbury; losing at Wembley to Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final; the “murderers” chants from some of our supporters, which I hope are now gone for good.

Babe in arms
Lydia called her Maya Elizabeth which, added to the double-barrelled surname, struck her as being ‘one way of teaching her most of the alphabet’

And the greatest players you’ve seen in Everton blue (*or wish you’d been around to see)?

I would’ve loved to have seen Dave Hickson play. He was doing the tours of Goodison – and still playing football every week – well into his 70s. A lovely, humble man who had time for everyone, and who still had a vibrancy about him in his later years. I miss him a lot.

Any you’d prefer to forget?
Earl Barrett, Ibrahima Bakayoko, Per Krøldrup (I’m still convinced we signed the wrong player)

Jake: 'get that win'
Jake: ‘3-0 again would be nice but we’d settle for 1-0’

Liverpool is a city with split loyalties even within families but would you say the red-blue rivalry is still as intense as ours with Newcastle (among others)?

Tricky for me to comment on, because I’m not there day-to-day. I still hate the days before those games and desperately want to beat them, but I actually find the atmosphere at games against United more poisonous now. Half my family were season ticket holders at Liverpool and my best mate runs the best Liverpool podcast around, so I find it hard to hate them as such! I’ve also been to a lot of the Hillsborough anniversary memorials at Anfield over the years, and have taught students about it – being welcomed in my colours for those services, and doing that teaching, had an effect on my own feelings about the club as a whole.

Kevin Kilbane, Paul Bracewell, Gavin McCann, Don Hutchison, Louis Saha and others have played for both clubs and Peter Reid, our most successful manager in decades, was a star for you. Special thoughts on any of them (or others linked with both clubs but overlooked in my list)

I’m probably the only person around who loves Kilbane’s rendition of ‘Ice Ice Baby’ . He was a solid player for us.

When Saha was fit and focused on the right things, he was superb. I missed his fastest ever FA cup final goal against Chelsea, because my now ex-husband sent me a picture from a family wedding I was supposed to be at (I had lied to the bride and groom about where I was that day)

And your view of Sunderland – the club the supporters, the city and region and, if not covered earlier, Moyes?

Genuinely my favourite away day. Love the ground, great fans, and had one of my favourite ever away games there (FA Cup replay, 2012). Really hope you stay up, not least so that I can hopefully go next season – it’s one of the first away fixtures I look out for.

What will be this season’s top four?

Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea aaaaaand…Spurs.

And the bottom three (be merciless if you must)?

Burnley and Hull are my favourites – then it’s between Swansea (I think they’ll struggle to score even more than they did last season); Sunderland (sorry); Palace (wishful thinking on my part); and Bournemouth for me. I’m just hoping Watford survive, otherwise my partner will be unbearable!

Haven’t asked this in a while but your outlook on club vs country – which is more important and why?

Club. I’ve no interest in the men’s national side – I put it down to being from Liverpool (although that doesn’t explain why I still support the women’s team)

And diving? So prevalent it may as well be written into coaching manuals or still worth stamping out along with feigned injuries and other forms of cheating?

Continue to stamp out obvious cases. Personally think the balance is about right on that front now.

Not far for you to travel if I am right in thinking you are near Leeds. Will you be there and what will be the score?

I won’t be – as much as I love going, I’ll have my daughter at home that night and I’ll be focused on final marathon preparations (I’m running Berlin for Parkinson’s on Sept 25)

Lydia and her princess
Lydia and her princess

* Lydia Bleasdale-Hill on herself: Live in Tadcaster (between Leeds and York); usually Associate Professor in Law, but I’m on secondment to a University of Leeds institute this year (leading a research project into student resilience and wellbeing); Mum to a loud little person (Maya, 5); season ticket holder since 1996. Initially started going alone (my Dad worked away for years and there was nobody else to go with), now sit with him and the aforementioned loud little person (who has never had a lullaby sang to her, but instead knows all the words to our cleanest songs).

M Salut's preferred cheese
M Salut’s preferred cheese

Cheese? Ardrahan, Cornish Yarg (covered in wild nettles), Epoisses, Reblochon. I wouldn’t like Morbier because (I think) it has some blue in it [ a nice thin streak – Ed], but Tomme de Savoie looks right up my street!

Maya
Maya

Interview: Colin Randall

* Voting has begun in The Football Blogging Awards. Salut! Sunderland will not get even close to winning but we have been invited to enter. If you feel like casting a vote in our favour, the obvious category is Best Football Club Blog and you can support us at http://www.footballbloggingawards.co.uk/about/vote-now-football-blogging-awards/