Seemed only fair. Jonathan Fear, from Vital Villa, previewed the Carling Cup match for us so I agreed to return the favour. Salut! Sunderland often asks rival fans the “lazy interviewer’s question” – inviting them to ask something we forgot but they wanted to answer. Jonathan made the ultimate refinement of this device by leaving it to me to ask all the questions as well as answer them …
Good start to the season for Sunderland, with important wins already (question posed before St Andrew’s!) Is this going to be a big season for you?
Certainly better. How big remains to be seen. Ellis Short, our new owner made a top 10 finish his target and I would have settled cheerfully for that until we nearly beat man United and then beat Liverpool. So let’s be bold as say seventh, maybe even sixth.
Will Sunderland be up for it in a Carling Cup game?
Yes. The players and fans realise this is our best chance for a trophy at the present stage of our development. We’ve had an easy ride so far, Norwich away and a dreadful (though weakened) Birmingham at home. Villa are a proper test of what we’re achieving under Bruce and I’d love us to go all the way.
Were you surprised at how bad Sunderland were last season, and/or by Keane’s walkout?
Yes, at how bad we were. At the start of the season, i was sure we’d move on from the previous season’s relegation scrap. But the writing appeared on the wall quite early and by the time Keane went, it had become just a matter of how and when. That, and the Ipswich experience, reinforces the view that despite that superb promotion season for us, he isn’t cut out for management.
4 Who for you are the Sunderland greats, and do any real duds spring to mind?
Never saw Shack. Charlie Hurley, Jimmy Montgomery and Brian Clough were in the team when I first started going in the 1960s. Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn were a fabulous partnershiop and, in between the two eras, there were people like Gary Rowell and Gabbiadini. But I’d have to say Hurley – always known as King Charlie at Sunderland – was the best player I ever saw in our colours. There have, sadly, been so many duds over the years that it would be hard to narrow it down to a squad, let alone a couple of players.
Is the money swirling around in English football reassuring, exciting or a serious concern for the future of the game?
I hate it. That said, we all welcome it when it comes the way of our clubs. It is just a matter of degree. I’d love everything to be on merit with level playing fields but it isn’t going to happen.
Name this season’s top four in order, and the Carling cup winners.
Man United/Chelsea/Arsenal Man City. Carling Cup: Sunderland (got to be optimistic).
And who is going down?
Hull, Wolves, Portsmouth
If there was one change you could make to football – anything from the laws of the game to handling of fans – what would it be?
Send the Football Data Co to the Tower and make clubs more appreciative, in all sorts of ways, of the fans
Club v Country ?
Club every time. I’d sooner see our reserves win their league (not going to happen this season but did last) than England win the World Cup
The Eduardo question: dying seconds of the last game of the season. A win makes you champions. Darren Bent dives spectacularly in the box and wins a penalty, Everyone except the ref sees it for what it is but the goal is scored and Sunderland are champs. You take it gladly, you take it guiltily or you’re so ashamed you almost wish you’d only drawn and finished second?
After the beach ball, I have lost my high moral ground so I’d take it guiltily but be happy for the diver to be sold as an example
The lazy interviewer’s question. Is there something I should have asked but didn’t, and what is your response?
What do make of Villa? Like the club, the manager, the fans. the pair of old codgers who run Salut! Sunderland disagree on plenty but are as one in our respect for Villa.
Will you be at the match? What will be the score?
Can’t be there. We’ll scrape through 2-1
* Colin Randall runs Salut! Sunderland at https://safc.blog/ He grew up in County Durham and has supported the team since his dad took him to see a Boro v SAFC game in which Brian Clough scored the winner. Now lives between London and France, but keeps the season ticket going because he has such a great seat and is scared of losing it.