Malcolm Dawson writes……….the games are coming thick and fast. Today the Who are You? series reaches Sunderland v Forest ahead of Tuesday’s game and we have turned to “Art of Football”, Forest fans all and sponsors and providers of some great prizes that we on Salut! Sunderland have been able to award. I have two of their tee shirts, Jermain Defoe crashing in that brilliant effort against the Mags a couple of seasons back to make it 5 in a row and Super Kev’s equally brilliant stunner against Chelsea, and fine products they are too. I have to emphasise that David Cuthbert, the father of the founders made no request that we advertise his sons’ business but answered the questions that M Salut put to him with grace and as a favour. Nevertheless with Christmas not that far off here’s a link to their homepage and Sunderland stuff.
Now on to David’s responses.
Interview Colin Randall
A solid enough start, certainly compared with ours. Have you high hopes for this season?
It has been a few years since such a wave of optimism has swept the City Ground (apart from the first few weeks of the Stuart Pearce era). We are not expecting to reach the Premier League this season but will definitely be disappointed if we are not challenging for the play-offs.
The ownership – Evangelos Marinakis and Sokratis Kominakis – may not mean much to most people but Mark Warburton made a name for himself at Brentford, did pretty well at in the revival of Rangers and is now your boss. What do you make of him and the owners?
Really like the football that Brentford played under Warburton and we are starting to see better football at Forest already. As a manager he knows what he wants, the players respect him and want to play for him and there is definitely a sense of team spirit. He seems a good tactician and wants to entertain. He has also been good at bringing in a few home grown youngsters who are Forest through and through as well as making a few astute signings. Whilst he is not another Clough he seems to have the same core values and believes in “a better way to play football”.
If not covered in that answer, are they the right combination to restore something of the past glories of Forest?
The takeover was a long running affair as it took 2 attempts during which time Marianakis was getting a bit of bad press about allegations of corruption in Greek football. So we were all a bit concerned that we were jumping from frying pan to fire, as Fawaz had been an absolute disaster. But so far they have been doing and saying all the right things. There is a determined effort to look after fans and local businesses a bit better. And at least they know how football works given what they have achieved at Olympiakos (so many foreign owners don’t seem to have a clue about the game). Don’t think we will ever see the European glory days again but the owners, manager and the team on and off the field that they are putting together should see us competing properly in the top division.
Liam Bridcutt was poor for us, Daryl Murphy patchy (though he did score a wonder goal against Wigan). How do you see their Forest careers developing?
Bridcott had barely trained with the squad when he made his only appearance in the last game against Leeds so it’s too early to make a judgement on him. Murphy has been surprisingly impressive. He is strong, holds the ball up well and is scoring. His experience should help the rest of the strike force who are all young players.
And who else will be important to you this season?
Barry McKay looks the buy of the season at £500k from Rangers. He is quick, two footed, has scored a couple of really good goals and can pick out an intelligent pass.
You are probably far too young to have seen anything of the great Forest era. Any handed down thoughts on Clough and the team he created?
Watched the ‘Miracle Men’ film by Jonny Owen which was a reminder of what a fabulous team Cloughie built which played some amazing football on mud baths of pitches. Whilst it will never be repeated there are definitely echoes of that era in the current situation. Manager that likes to play on the floor, starting from a low position in the second tier, little right footed Scottish left winger, strong journeyman centre forward etc. etc. Dream on.
What about your own high points as a Forest supporter?
Was too young and too poor to see much of the European years but the highlights for me were the League Cup wins with Pearce, Des Walker, Nigel Clough etc. You can’t beat a day out at Wembley and you bring the cup home.
And the lows?
Relegation to Division 3 and then taking three seasons to get back up.
Best players you’ve seen in your colours or wish you were old enough to have seen?
John Robertson did it all. Stan Collymore was absolutely superb but we only had him for 2 seasons. He could have been the best centre forward England ever had if he had got his head together
Who should have been allowed nowhere near the City Ground?
Justin Fashanu – Clough bought him for £1m from Norwich (a lot of money at the time) after he scored a wonder goal against Liverpool. It turned out to be a fluke!
What are your thoughts on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city and region, Simon Grayson?
Have always had a soft spot for Sunderland ever since they rolled over Leeds in 73. Loved it when Roy Keane had success there (ex Forest) and after what I read about the way Niall Quinn was connecting with the fans
Is there anyone in our squad you’d like to see at Forest?
Can’t really comment as I haven’t seen enough of the present team.
Hand on heart, where will our clubs finish this season?
Unfortunately I think Sunderland are going to find it tough and will finish mid-table. I see Forest as pushing for a play-off place but can’t see them in the top two spots.
We’ve already had a rude awakening to life in the Championship. What is your assessment of the difference in quality and style with the Premier League?
I think there has been a big improvement in the standard of football in the Championship in the last few years with some good footballing sides. The division gets more competitive each year and I don’t feel there is a big gap between the top third of the Championship and the bottom third of the Premiership. Look at how small clubs like Bournemouth, Burnley, Southampton have been able to hang in there whilst bigger clubs like Villa and Wolves are struggling to get back.
Will we see as much cheating as happens almost routinely in the top.
Unfortunately yes. Simulation, feigned injury, time wasting and arguing with the ref are just as prevalent.
Best ref, worst ref at this level?
Can’t really comment. All I know is I wouldn’t do it no matter how much they paid me.
Tell us about Art of Football, valued sponsors of Salut! Sunderland competitions and awards.
My two youngest sons Gabe and Luke started the business 4 years ago from their bedroom. (They have 3 older brothers and we all love football.). Gabe is the artist and had the idea whilst watching Aguero score the goal to win the Premier League. He jumped out of his chair with excitement and love for the beautiful game. So Art of Football is about capturing those moments and players that make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Sunderland have a special place for us as their win at Old Trafford in the League Cup semi-final was the first design to really catch on and helped us realise that the business could work. Believe me, we so wanted you to beat Man City in the Final.
One step the authorities should take to improve the lot of the ordinary fan?
Safe standing areas.
Will you be at our game and what will be the score?
I can’t get to the game sadly. Forest have been travelling well but I expect this to be a 1-1 draw.
Finally, a paragraph or two or who you are, what you do, your history of supporting Forest.
My name is David Cuthbert. I am 63 years old and a life long Forest supporter. As mentioned above I have 5 sons and we are all season ticket holders and my grandson now comes as well. My own father wasn’t interested in football and never took me to a game. He missed out because going with my sons is the highlight of the week. COYR