The Latics travel up to the North East this weekend to face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, a trip that usually has some rewards for us, 10 visits over the years, 4 wins and 3 draws not a bad return, anyways in the build up to this seasons clash I have managed to grab a few words with Vital Sunderland editor, Tom Bodell, so without further ado let’s see how it went:
Four draws in your opening four games, possibly not the start you wanted, but still undefeated. Happy so far, or frustrated?
A bit of both.
When you look at the individual results, draws at Arsenal and against Liverpool are not bad results at all. A draw at Swansea wasn’t the end of the world either and West Ham although just promoted are by no means a poor side. Better sides than us will go to Upton Park this season and lose.
It’s not hard to see where the problem is, we don’t score enough goals, and although £14m man Steven Fletcher has scored four from his first four shots in a Sunderland shirt he cannot do all the work. The midfield isn’t going to create much when they don’t have the ball, and against three of the four sides we have played that was the case. At West Ham last Saturday it was the classic Martin O’Neill tactic of sitting back in two banks of four, soaking up the pressure and hitting the opposition on the break. Against weaker teams or at least sides that don’t dictate the play we should have more luck. The sooner that win comes along the better!
I see Lee Cattermole hasn’t settled down any! Great player but he can be a liability at times, when with us though I thought he was sure to go on and become and England international, but he doesn’t seem to have progressed, what’s the Sunderland fans thoughts on him?
I think we all get a bit pissed off when he succeeds in getting sent off for fun, but everyone appreciates that he is a good player. If he was a talent blag it would be easy to show him the door but the reality is that he is a leader, he is club captain, and he is a good player when he’s actually available. He might not be a veteran but he should know better, and I suspect it will take strong words from O’Neill to pull him back into line. Five red cards in less than 100 appearances for the club is just too many, far, far too many. It’s about taking responsibility and leading by example; getting sent-off for a reckless tackle is neither.
After his great start I see Martin O’Neil has now settled down into the job, only 2 Premier League wins from 19 games, none since March 24th doesn’t make for good reading, are the fans behind him or is there some disquiet?
No absolutely not. O’Neill continues to enjoy the full backing of the Sunderland support and I expect it would take a truly horrendous run to lose that support. He is a very popular figure for a number of reasons, namely, he knows the job, he supported the club as a boy, and he pulls no punches.
What are your hopes for the season for Sunderland and how do you feel the Latics will fare this time round?
An improvement on last season has to be the objective. O’Neill came in and pulled us away from the drop zone and we still finished respectably. If we can do something similar this season and kick on towards the top half at least, that will represent a good season. Whether or not we can achieve that depends on how much luck we have with injuries, so far – very little!
Re: Wigan, they will make it a tough game because they like to play possession football. As the home team we should be expected to set the tempo and dictate the play but I really wouldn’t bank on that. It will certainly be a close-fought game and I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if our run of draws continued.
Any of our players excite you? If you could choose any one Latics to take to the Stadium of Light who would it be?
Victor Moses did last season, but now I’d have to say Jean Beausejour. He’s a very handy player, lots of energy and the kind of player who you could use the word rambunctious to describe!
That’s our Jean, rambunctiously rampaging down the left
Which Sunderland player should we look out for on Saturday?
Steven Fletcher. If we score, it’ll be Fletch. Four goals from four shots on target, if he keeps that up this season he could very well prove to be worth the £14m we were bullied into paying for him. When Adam Johnson gets back, he’ll be even more dangerous as one of the best headers of a ball in the Premier League, he should thrive off Johnson’s crossing ability & old-fashioned wing-play.
One for the future, Sunderland have a knack of unearthing some great youngsters, is there anyone coming through that we should look out for in the future?
Republic of Ireland youth international John Egan is highly rated. Spent time out on loan last season and has been in and around the first-team squad this season. If our defensive injuries keep up, he could be thrust into action. Striker Ryan Noble is decent too, but he’s been a pro’ for a year or two now and having seen him for the reserves and on-loan at Hartlepool I do wonder whether or not he has the physical attributes required to cut it at this level.
Business time, prediction please Tom, one with your heart and one with your head
Head says another 1-1 draw. Heart says a 2-1 win – goal fests!
A big thanks to Tom for taking the time to answer the questions
To see an interview with yours truly on the Sunderland v Latics fixture, visit www.sunderland.vitalfootball.co.uk
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