It wasn’t that we’d forgotten about the Carling Cup. But tomorrow’s game at home to Birmingham City has crept up on us, and the scurry for a Bluenose to answer a few questions began only this morning. Stepping forward to spare Salut! Sunderland some red faces is none other than Kevin Ball*. Er, no, not our Kevin Ball but the owner of the BCFC fan site Joys and Sorrows – a name Sunderland fans would recognise as summing up their own supporting experience …
Salut! Sunderland: SuperKev. What does he mean to Birmingham fans? Give or take those who accused him of lack of commitment in his last season with us, most Mackems still cherish him
Kevin: He scored really important goals for us last season, including the winner to take us up. I don’t think you’ll hear a Blues fan say a bad thing against him. Having said that, he is no more than a squad player this season. Mind you I wouldn’t bet against him scoring eight or nine goals!
So you got back to the Premier in a hurry. What is your realistic hope for this season?
I do think survival is there for us. I feel, (and felt before the season), that us, Hull, Pompey, Bolton and Wolves would probably be the main teams in those three places. Pompey and Hull already look very poor. I’m sure we can finish above one more side!
Do your Premier pre-occupations means you couldn’t care less about the Carling Cup?
You saw how bad we were in the season you did go down – were you surprised at how worse we became last season? Where will we finish under Bruce?
I didn’t pay too much attention to you last season I’m afraid, as far as Brucie – honest hard working lads was a phrase he always trotted out – and most of his sides are. The problem is that when the pressure comes on, he goes for a safer and safer format, meaning you actually get beat more. I predict you’ll have 2 decent seasons and then things start to unwind.
How is Teemu Tainio shaping up?
Early days, but from what I’ve seen he looks pretty solid.
Name this season’s top four in order? If Man City not there, why not?
Chelsea, Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool. I just feel all that talent must cause friction, and I’m not convinced Sparky is the man to handle it.
And the bottom three, not forgetting that all three promoted sides have made reasonable starts?
Pompey, Hull and either Bolton or Wolves. (err or Burnley!)
Tell me what you really think of Villa.
The Eduardo question: you need a win in the last game to stay up/win a trophy. A blatant dive gets you a last-second penalty and winner. You take it gladly, you take it guiltily or you’re so ashamed you almost wish you hadn’t won?
I’m old fashioned, I can’t abide cheating. I don’t care if it is a Blues player or not. I would be furious.
Will you go tomorrow night? If not, how will you keep tabs – and who will win?
Nope – as I live in Devon and I’m working, it’s kind of impractical!! Home win – to allow us to focus on staying up.
What was the question I should have asked – and what’s your answer?
Q: What’s it like sharing the same name as an ex-Sunderland hero Kevin Ball? A: He should be honoured.
* (This) Kevin Ball on Kevin Ball: I’m a management, training and development consultant. Supported the Blues since the mid 70s through thin and thin.
Colin Randall (with thanks, as ever, to A Love Supreme for the Kevin Ball – our Kevin Ball – photo).