Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Thursday September 9 2010
On Saturday there will be one or two familiar faces visiting the DW Stadium when Wigan Athletic entertain Sunderland with the oppo`s crammed full of ex-players, ex-coaches and even an ex-manager or two in Steve Bruce and John Benson.
Anyway in the build up to the game, as ever I have managed to grab a chat with Black Cats fan and Vital Sunderland editor Gaz Johnson about the start to the season, new signings, ex-players etc and of course the game itself, let`s see how it all went:
worbo - Welcome Gaz, how are things? I see Sunderland have started the season with one of each, a win, a draw and a loss from the first three games, what you expected?
Gaz - Things started off nervously after a great start against Birmingham we lost Clattermole through a stupid red card and then things began to implode. We conceded two goals against Brum to lose two points and then we lost away to newly promoted WBA. However, we managed to get a massive three points against the City boys and optimism has been restored! I expected to get at least four points from those 9 but they came in the completely wrong order as usual, supporting Sunderland is never predictable!
worbo - Titus Bramble, now I will be perfectly straight I didn`t see that coming off at all, to be honest I didn`t think Bramble would have fancied going back up to the North East with his previous experiences in the region and I know Mackems didn`t really rate him, in fact he was a target of derisions wasn`t he? How as he settled in and have the fans warmed to him?
By the way I know you paid a lot more than the reported £1 million for his services.
Gaz - According to some reports we paid a lot less than £1 million so it depends who your sources are Worbo! He came up here but the Sunderland fans have all been on his side and wish him every success in a red and white shirt. Mostly all the stick has came from certain idiot supporters and Newcastle fans. The thing is he was poor for Newcastle but he completely changed his game around under Bruce and Wigan and we seem to have bought him at his peak. As long as he keeps focused for the full 90 minutes I genuinely think this signing could be the bargain of the Summer, he was fantastic against City and WBA.
worbo - Steve Bruce, he hasn`t really endeared himself to the Latics fans since he left the club, we know his transfer tactics and how he uses the press, after all he was our boss, so with Lee Cattermole already gone and then the reported interest in Chris Kirkland, Maynor Figueroa, Titus Bramble and lately Charles N`Zogbia he has become a bit of a pain.
Also looking back at his tactics, he was alright for the first twelve months but the last six were just awful and the football played under him was more akin to Rugby Union with big boots up field the order of the day.
How`s old potato head been at Sunderland, do the fans rate him and is his brand of football as dull as ever?
Gaz - He has totally changed the whole squad in a very short space of time and his transfer dealings have been nothing short of amazing since he took over Keano. He has sold some deadwood and made profits on mostly all of the signings he did not like from Roy in the past season before he took over. Any manager who can get £1.5m for Daryl Murphy is an instant hit on Wearside. I know Wigan fans cannot stand Bruce but many Sunderland fan cannot stand Dave Whelan at times it is just part and parcel of footy now-a-days.
I rate Bruce but he needs to sort out the away form or we could be in for another tough season but with the signings of Bramble, Onuoha and Welbeck on loan, Gyan, Mensah and Riveros we have the strongest 11 in my lifetime of following the Mackems. I would not say we are dull and we are all looking forward to this season under Bruce.
worbo - I see you have grabbed yourselves a World Cup star in Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan, though to me £12 million seems a lot of dosh for someone untried in the Premier League for a club of your size to be paying, do you see it as a gamble or will he do the business?
Gaz - It is a massive gamble but as Bruce said he was trying to buy him for four years before the amazing performances in South Africa but he could not afford him under Whelan. Thankfully, Ellis Short gave him the money and replaced him for Jones who went to Stoke. He looks like a fantastic prospect but only time will tell but I think he will be a massive hit for Sunderland and exactly what Bent needs to take the pressure of his goal scoring habits.
worbo - I usually ask opposing fans to pick a couple of our players who`d they like to see in their side, I aint doing this with you Gaz as they might just end up at the Stadium of Light for real!!! But what I would like to ask is what you would consider a successful season to be for Sunderland this time round.
Surely with the money spent a challenge for a European spot and a good cup run is the least of your expectations, but will they be realised?
Gaz - I would just like us to maintain our brilliant home form and start to turn points and defeats into victories on our travels and then we can creep into the top ten without having to do that much from last season. I believe this season we will have a good cup run and Bruce will play his strongest team in every round so as long as we can do all of those we will be happy.
worbo - To the game, I think it will be another close encounter, they
always seem to be down the years between us, I am going for a 1-0 home win
for the Latics, how do you see it Gaz?
Gaz - This will be the strongest eleven I have ever seen Sunderland have in my 20 years of supporting the club so to say I am not excited is an understatement. We have Mensah back so that adds confidence to a clean sheet instantly as he is World class and we have the in form Henderson, Welbeck and Bent all returning on a high from England duty. I predict boldly a 2-0 victory with Bent and Gyan dancing in front of the packed away end.
worbo - thanks for the chat Gaz, have a safe journey but a miserable one ;). Catch you on St. George`s Day (April 23rd) for the return.
There is an interview with yours truly over on Vital Sunderland that some might take issue with.
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Date:Thursday September 9 2010
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