Eugene, from ESPN, came knocking again at Salut! Sunderland‘s door.What he got in response was the Pete and Dud show. I’m the dud, Pete’s Pete Sixsmith. Here are our answers to his questions – both of us giving our responses without knowing the other had been asked, too …
Up to this point in the season, what is the best / worst your club can achieve this coming season?
The best we can achieve is a top 8 placing, putting us in the second tier of the Premier League, alongside Fulham, Liverpool and Blackburn. The worst we can achieve is yet another relegation struggle; bit I think we are too good for that.
The owner set top 10 as his aim for this season. On the face of it, we’re roughly on target, but the recent bad run has undone some of the good achieved earlier in the season. Realistically I’d make eighth and a decent cup run our best hope, being sucked into a relegation battle the worst possibility, though I cannot believe we will be in trouble come May.
Who is your key player and why?
The key player is Darren Bent – you don’t have to have a UEFA A badge to work that one out. He has 13 goals already and without him, we would be struggling. He is an excellent striker and takes a good proportion of his chances. Not as good as Sandra Redknapp though!!
Lorik Cana. He’s a strong, committed leader, the sort of player Sunderland fans have always admired, though he must do something to curb the excesses of tackling enthusiasm that have cost him so many cards.
Who is the unsung hero in your team and why?
The wages they are on, I don’t think there are any unsung heroes. Jordan Henderson has beavered away all season and Paolo Da Silva has looked quality when he has played. He has a quiet, authoritative manner about him.
Dud: Andy Reid continues to get some stick from fans who remain unconvinced, largely because of his generally weak dead balls and a tendency to drift out of games. But study most of our matches and you see that most of the creativity and spark comes from him.
Which new signing has impressed you most? Which one the least?
Darren Bent, for obvious reasons, closely followed by Lee Cattermole; Frazier Campbell has not impressed yet, but he hasn’t really had a run in the team. John Mensah has looked good, but has suffered with injuries.
Lee Cattermole was an inspiration before his injury layoff but Darren Bent has to get my vote for the simple reason that he has scored goals, usually only one in a game but so often vital to the outcome. I am afraid that Fraizer Campbell has not impressed me at all so far.
Which area do you think your team needs strengthening in January?
We desperately need two full backs who can tackle, pass and link up with the wide players. This is a top priority. Another forward would be useful and maybe a winger to supply Jones and Bent, but minor surgery rather than a full scale, life saving operation. Not many good players available in January.
We are woefully weak at full back, I would like to see another striker if rumours about Kenwyne Jones being on his way out prove correct. And the speculation about Robert Green shows Bruce may be unhappy, as I am, about our goalkeeping.
What has Steve Bruce done to impress/infuriate you lately?
Jordan Henderson has played most of the season and has made one or two sit up and take notice. David Meyler played at Blackburn and confirmed what we dedicated reserve team watchers have been saying; he has the ability to make an impression.
To be honest, there has been nothing during our lamentable recent run to impress me, except perhaps the honesty of his public response to poor performances. His substitutions when 1-0 up against Portsmouth showed a desperation to cling on to the lead (which we didn’t) when we should have been trying, for once, to kill off feeble opposition. If it was his decision to appeal against Michael Turner’s red card at Man City, the sheer inevitability of the verdict (a four-match ban instead of three) made that infuriating, too.
Where will your club finish this season?
Pete: answer in the post?
I do not think we will reach my target of eighth as described above, but I will keep the faith and say 10th.
Can you also give me a short description of your site and it’s achievements so that I can help highlight it on our site?
Our site, www.salutsunderland.com is a fans’ site which seeks to be supportive of the team and to reflect what fans see.. It was founded by Colin Randall, a journalist of 35 years experience and a Sunderland fan of 45 years experience, so he knows how to write and organise and he knows how to deal with the constant disappointment that is Sunderland AFC. He lives in London and France and has a season ticket; I live in Shildon, County Durham., have a season ticket and spend hours sat on coaches following the dream of seeing a succesful Sunderland team.We try to make the writing interesting, erudite and witty. We sometimes succeed.
Salut! Sunderland is easily the most successful of my Salut! group of sites. It aims to be as literate and entertaining as possible. triying to appeal not only to Sunderland supporters but to anyone who appreciates good writing about the game.