Tonight sees a great chance for Sunderland to make further progress in a winnable competition. Having seen off mighty Colchester, we face Premier League opposition in the form of a team needing a morale-boosting win from anywhere. Not starting with Darren Bent would not seem to do much good to our chances of stopping that win coming tonight – unless Asamoah Gyan is now fully matchfit and raring to get at them. Sam the Hammer (aka Sam H) is our Hammers previewer and this is a repeat of his interview for those who missed it (we are beset with technical problems just now).
Sam is a regular enough visitor to Salut! Sunderland. He’s a techie wizard, genial company over a pint and lord of the manor over at the West Ham Process, one our constant rivals for top spot among the FootballUnited.com hit parade of footie sites. Sam is also one of life optimists, a condition that helps when you support certain clubs (don’t we know it?), but feels this is one Sunderland will win. So, Sam, Who Are You? …
Salut! Sunderland: Awful start for West Ham. Surely things will get better.
See also: the Hammer’s guide to friendly Mackems
Sam: At the bottom of the table after five makes for pretty worrying reading.
However, where possible, I try and look for positives. This could be a short answer. We’ve played Villa away (never an easy game for any side), Bolton at home (don’t think we’ve beat them for seven years in the league at home), United away (obviously hard), Chelsea at home (they’re rampant and we gave them a game) and now Stoke away (a hard team to beat, and lots of top sides have failed). So, being brutally honest, if we’d had more than six points at this stage it would have been a miracle. Realistically, I would have taken anything between two and four points by now.
I suppose what’s most worrying to us is that we’re quite a confidence side. And unfortunately confidence is very low right now. The performances up until the Chelsea game showed that – we were flying against Bolton until we missed a penalty and then they scored. That was that. The Chelsea game however, to me, showed a very slight change in the tide. We ran, we battled and looked like a side capable of possibly taking the game to the wire. But perhaps I’m clutching at straws?!
I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom however, I’m confident we can turn it around.
There was so much optimism when Sullivan and Gold moved in. What has gone wrong?
There was optimism until the very first time one of them spoke to the media. They worked hard to make sure it was clear we were in dyer financial straights which immediately put paid to any fans thinking that maybe it was a new dawn. It was made quite clear that it was going to be a period of mediocrity and scraping by. It doesn’t fill anyone with optimism when it comes from the very top. As you know though, I have major reservations about those two.
To much of them is about their mouth. To much is about marketing, too much is about sell sell sell. And it’s been met with a general reduction in attendances. Maybe there’s a link – or perhaps it’s the complete oversight in pricing many fans out of games (not to mention an additional, extra expensive game this season)
Not a fan.
It is far too early to talk seriously of relegation but if the worst came to the worst , would the Hammers do a Newcastle of linger in the doldrums for a few seasons?
We would be in big big trouble.
And it would only be compounded if moved to the Olympic Stadium.
Carling Cup: a distraction you could frankly do without, or the chance to make an impact and gain confidence?
In my opinion it has potential to be the latter. Especially if we could pick up a win at your place – that would do the team the world of good.
I’ve every expectation for Grant to take the competition seriously, but there’s nothing easy about going to the Stadium of Light as the away side.
What did you make or your activity, successes and failures in the pre-season transfer market?
Mixed feelings to be honest. Some signings like Barrera and Obinna have (so far) quite excited me. And the signing of Jacobsen was a much much needed addition at right back.
However, some acquisitions were particularly underwhelming. Not helped by Sullivan and Gold’s attempt to make our that they were “big” “marquee” signings. Well, at least that’s what we were promised…so far I’m seeing a moderately sized tent.
In terms of players going out – our biggest and most puzzling loss was that of a young left-back, Daprela. The lad looked hugely promising. Yet, he was sold (along with Diamanti – another big loss) to Brescia. An awful bit of business if you ask me – something on that front does not seem right. There was no need to let him go.
Which, incidentally, was brought to light today against Stoke where Illunga was injured and Gabiddon had to deputise at left back.
Do you think we paid absurdly over the odds for Gyan? What of Bruce’s general stewardship of Sunderland assuming you have a view?
I can’t speak o of Gyan to be honest as I don’t know his game well enough. I do know however that it was a lot of money – and no matter who you are, you have to prove your worth on the pitch. So far, it seems like he is a good addition to your side.
As for Bruce if I’m honest I’m not a massive fan. At all.
Always blaming the ref. Does may head in. Can’t help but think you won’t be pushing on above 9th/10th with him in charge.
Although I’d give my right arm for a 9th/10th finish!
Cheating: we banged on last season, probably far too much, about diving, feigning injury, trying to get opponents booked or sent off. Is it time to abandon “spirit of the game” principles and accept that all that has become part of the modern game?
It happens in every side now. I don’t like it at all.
I think more should be made about the cheats. More punishment. Harsher fines. You’ll soon see Drogba stop acting like petulant child if a post-match review led him to receive a five-match ban.
Get up. Get on with it.
I recall how eagerly you were looking forward to the World Cup. Were you as disappointed – generally as well as in the case of England – as many others?
Yes. It was poor across the board.
Major disappointment. The less said of England the better.
Although to be quite honest, I’m delighted that that team of individuals were not successful. Rooney, Terry, Crouch, Lampard and Ashley Cole going down in history as World Cup winners? No thanks.
Name this season’s top four, bottom three – and Carling Cup winners
Carling Cup winners: Arsenal
And if not already covered, where will West Ham and Sunderland finish up?
I think we’ll finish about 13th and you’ll finish 10th
And tell us how you’ll keep tabs on the game against us – and what you think the score will be
I’m currently still considering being a sucker for punishment and making the trip up there – where do I go for a beer?! (Afterwards that is, I’ve a feeling I’ll need it) … any advances on the Harbour View anyone? I’m sure my pals there will buy you pint, and you can get a B&B along the seafront – ed.
I’m going for 2-0 to you lot, but I’m tempted to think it will be after extra time.
Interview: Colin Randall