So another season just about over and, along with it, our relegation near-miss and this generally good, occasionally great series. Salut! Sunderland salutes the great band of opposing supporters who have given their time to answering our questions. The awards are coming soon; the judges have had a shortlist selected by Monsieur Salut since before the Man U game. But they are not bound by it and may well choose one of the last three ‘Who are You?’s, which have been uniformly excellent, among their winners. And now let’s welcome back Jim White*, who sits on the board of the Swans Trust (Twitter address: @swansinfo) and knows his stuff inside out …
Salut! Sunderland: Safe after a brush with the drop zone: you seemed so much better than that earlier in the season, What caused the wobbles?
Jim White: To be honest there is a wide range of reasons. We have played 10 more games than most people but our players weren’t very fit so meaning we were switching off at key moments during games. I think we have seen a change since Garry has come in and the players look to have more motivation. I think it’s difficult to put the issues down to one thing (although there is no doubt that being in the Europa League causes issues for lots of clubs) but we are all pleased that they seem to be solved now and were back winning games!
Part of the last answer maybe but I was shocked when the club fired Laudrup. What did you make of the decision and what sort of caretaker job has Garry Monk done?
Many of those who are external to the club were surprised when Michael left but it was a relief to me. It had been clear for some time that Laudrup had lost interest in managing the club and I have no doubt that if he had been allowed to carry on managing the team then we would have fallen into the bottom 3. He was brilliant and achieved a lot for us but I think we needed to move on. I have been really pleased with what Garry has done. He is a club man and has brought lots of passion and zip back to our play. He has also increased the intensity of training sessions and so we look fitter on the field. He has also met his number 1 objective which was to keep us up and so he has achieved the goal he was set!
What do you expect to happen next and do you fear the turmoil of this season will carry on, making it less likely than it seemed before that you can consolidate Premier status?
No, I don’t have any worries about next season to be honest. I think that with some subtle changes to the squad (good additions I should add and keeping our key players) we will be ready for next season. We have good players and a good way of playing but we had lost our way slightly. With the right evolution of our style and not having the worries of Europe, I think we could be aiming for a top 8 or 10th position next year.
Who have been the top men for you this season, who has been shocking and do you want Ki back?
You only have to look at the goal scorers chart to see our main man this season. Wilfried Bony joined for a club record fee at the start of the season and whilst many were worried he would be an expensive mistake, I felt he was the player we needed to make a real move in the league. Goal scorers don’t come cheaply and when they are target men players (in the mould of Didier Drogba) then I thought the price was good value! He has got better and better over the year and I now think he is worth over double what we paid for him. Ashley Williams has also been a rock again this season and he, Leon Britton and Wilfried Bony are the spine of our team.
I don’t think any of our players have been shocking. Some would have liked to have done better I know but I don’t think anyone has been shocking.
As for Ki then I am pleased he has done well for Sunderland and I did like him as a player. I however only want players playing for us that want to give everything for the cause and are proud to wear the white shirt. If Ki comes back and wants to show fight for the shirt then he will get my support!
Cardiff are in a terrible state (obviously results could change this before you reply). Happy to see bitter rivals in trouble or sorry to see them go if they do?
I’m probably the wrong person to ask a question like this. Since I was a boy, I have had a dislike for Cardiff and that feeling has only grown over the years as I have watched how arrogant they have become as a club. It is fair to say that I was laughing my head off when they got whacked by you guys last week and I would love to see them go down. Many wouldn’t and think its good for Welsh football that they stay up. I am not one of those. I don’t wish to see them go out of business but I would have no problems seeing them fall into the Skrill Conference ?
In what sort of health is Swans Trust and was 20 per cent enough to give you any inside track on the Laudrup sacking?
We are in great health as a trust. The club have recently paid a dividend to all original shareholders and so we received £400,000 in dividends and this is stored safely away ready to use for future share purchases. Our Supporter Director Huw Cooze is involved in all day to day decisions made at the club and so was aware of what was going on with Michael.
Remind us of your highs and lows as a supporter?
The last few years have given us a lot of highs as a Swans fan especially compared to where we were in the 90s and through the millennium! Seeing us get promoted to the Premier League and watching us play Napoli away in the Europa League are major highs as was watching us get promoted at Bury to start our climb up the leagues! Nothing beats last February though and going to Wembley to see my club win a major trophy for the first time ever in our history. An incredible day that will live with me until I am in my box! Wembley also provides my lowest point watching the Swans. The pain of seeing John Frain curl in a 93rd minute free kick to send Northampton up in the play offs hurt beyond all words and I cried all of the way home!
And your assessment of the present crop of players when compared with the likes of Allchurch, Mel Charles and Toshak?
I am not old enough to have seen some of the greats of the past play to be honest but what I love hearing about these players was how much they cared about the club. Allchurch was probably the greatest ever player to play for us and Tosh put us on the map in the 80’s as he took us up through the divisions. Seeing great players playing for us now though (such as Michu) shows how far we have come as a club!
What did you make of the Di Canio appointment at Sunderland and how do you rate Poyet?
I thought the appointment of Di Canio was a brave one and would either be a masterstroke or one of those decisions that would come back to haunt the club and it looks like it was the latter! I just think modern day managers need to be a little more flexible in the way they handle their players! I like Gus Poyet and think he plays good football. He was in the mix for our job a few years ago and so Swans fans have always respected the way he plays the game
This question is, of course, now acdemic but it seemed right to include the Q+A anyway:
We may have a clearer idea before our game but who is going down and who is going to win the Prermier (top four in order please)?
I think that Liverpool will win the Premier League (not sure why but just think it’s destined to be their year) and I think Cardiff, Fulham and Norwich will go down! I think you guys will beat us on the final day to survive!
What inspires you about modern football and what appals?
Seeing the commitment that fans put into watching their team play is something that always amazes me but I love to see players getting back in amongst their community and realising how lucky they are to play the game. On the downside, I can’t stand the players who don’t want to give anything back to the community and fans who make them the heroes they are. Putting on the shirt of a team should always be a proud moment for ANY player as they are doing something that 000’s of fans of that club would give their right arm to do!
Any interest in Brazil? How much of a shame to you as a Welshman is it that Gareth Bale cannot expect to play in World Cup final stages?
Yes I love football and I will be watching the World Cup with interest! I have 10 on Wilfried Bony to be the top goal scorer (at 500-1) and so I will probably be an Ivory Coast fan during the tournament for financial reasons only! It is a shame that Gareth isn’t going to this World Cup but he is young and has 2 or 3 more to aim for and I think he will get there in his career one day!
Will you be at our game and be having an end-of-season party? What will be the score?
I was at the 0-0 draw last year and so won’t be able to make this game. I think it will be 2-1 to Sunderland and beating us will keep you in the Premier League – written before the WBA clincher – ed – which I will be very pleased about as I have always had a soft spot for the Mackems!
* Jim White on himself: still busy running my own business (I own a web based sales and marketing software company called InTouch – www.intouchcrm.co.uk) as well as running SCFC2.co.uk and sitting on the board of the Swans Trust! Not sure where I get all of the time for it but I am not sure I would want it to be any different!
Interview: Colin Randall
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