Saturday, 9 November 2013

In the Spotlight: Sunderland

No. 12: Paolo di Canio, Gus Poyet and the impact of Steven Fletcher

By Jack Mumford

City travel to the Stadium of Light this weekend to face a struggling Sunderland side. We caught up with Sunderland fan Glen Cardy (@glencardy7) to consider their season so far and look ahead to Sunday’s match.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sunderland have obviously struggled to find consistent form this season as you are 19th in the Premier League table. After the many signings your club made last summer what were your expectations for this season?

Glen: I was pretty excited about it to be honest, as were a lot of fans. We seemed for the first time to have an actual transfer policy in place and signed some quality players (Emanuele Giaccherini, from Juventus) but it all seemed to go wrong. 

Some SAFC fans predicted a top half finish but I was being more realistic and hoping around about 14th/15th which would have been an improvement from last season anyway.  I still think a lot of these players have something about them, time will tell.

Where do you think it all went wrong for Paolo Di Canio?

Glen: I was a big fan of Di Canio, and still am, but overall his rules on the training pitch were absolutely mad. I still think had he and the players compromised, met in the middle somewhere, then he'd have succeeded here, but he made it clear he wasn't going to change and ultimately he had to go. 

If he dials down his borderline psychotic behaviour and gets a few experienced coaches alongside him he'll succeed somewhere, he's certainly got the desire and drive to do so. Good luck to him.

Gus Poyet has already picked up a win against your big rivals Newcastle but also lost to Swansea and Hull. Do you believe he is the right man for the job at Sunderland and why?

Glen: Absolutely. His tactics so far have been spot on, the shape against Newcastle was something I've never seen in a while at Sunderland. The other night against Southampton was very impressive, albeit against a reserve team of sorts, we passed the ball around with ease. 

Any manager who can get Wes Brown fit and John O'Shea to pull off a reverse pass to his fellow centre back MUST have something about him.

Who do you predict will be relegated from the Premier League this season?

Glen: I can't really predict my own team to go down so I'm going to go with Crystal Palace, Norwich and Stoke, granted we need to have a very good run of results to keep us up. Palace in particular look like anything but a Premier League side at the minute.

There is obviously one player who is a big connection currently between the two clubs. How do you think ex-City player Adam Johnson has performed since he arrived at the Stadium of Light?

Glen: He's had his moments, no question. A few performances have shown how good he really is and a few have had us questioning if it's the same player.  He's probably one of, if not the most talented players in our squad yet doesn't apply that often enough. 

Whether that's incapability to get involved or not being willing enough to go looking for it, I'm not sure. We'll need him to perform like he did against Newcastle in April every week if we're to stay up. 

What is your prediction of Poyet’s line up and formation for the match against City?

Glen: (4-4-2): Mannone, Celustka, Brown (if fit!), O'Shea, Bardsley; Johnson, Colback, Ki, Larsson; Fletcher, Altidore. 

Is this the team you would choose if you were in Poyet’s position and why? 

Glen: Exactly the same except Westwood for Mannone if Westwood is fit. Playing two strikers against such a good team may seem Di Canio-esque but Fletcher is top-class and Altidore was MOTM on Wednesday so I don't think either deserve not to start.

Photo: Official Sunderland AFC Facebook

Who would you consider to be your danger man for this weekend’s match and why?

Glen: The obvious one is Fletcher, give him a yard of space in the box and he'll more than likely score, he's brilliant. A less obvious one is Jack Colback. He's been the stand out player in the last few matches and his partnership with Ki is exactly the partnership that will fit Poyet's style of play, so once again I'm looking forward to seeing Jack carry on this form.

Who do you feel is City’s danger man and why? 

Glen: Danger men surely?! In Sergio Aguero you have a world-class striker in world-class form supplied by in my opinion the best midfielder in the Premier League in Yaya Toure. If I have to pick one I'll go with Aguero purely because of his recent goal-scoring record.

And finally, what is your prediction for the score on Sunday?

Glen: I'm not confident. We've won one in nine, City are absolutely flying, is it something like 15 goals in 3 hours of football? Bizarre. As previously mentioned,  Aguero and Toure are arguably in the form of their life, Dave Silva has been quality all season, Fernandinho and Alvaro Negredo look astute signings and Manuel Pellegrini looks to be a good manager. All things considered, I'm going 1-0 Sunderland, Fletcher to get the winner...

It's been a pleasure, and after Sunday, I'd like to wish you all the best for the rest of the season and I hope you win the league again. Plus, it's been a while since we've had a good Poznan to really get under United's skin!

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You can also follow Jack on Twitter: @jackmumf

(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

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