Are Sunderland currently playing as well as you’d like them to?
At the moment, not quite. Whilst we’re still picking up points, we just aren’t good enough in attack and don’t score enough goals. We’ve drawn 9 games so far this season, and need to be turning more of those into wins if we’re going to avoid a serious relegation battle. On the other hand, we’re relatively sound in defence, which is promising, as if we can get a striker who can score goals in in January, we should have a decent second half to the season.
Who have been your stand out performers in the Sunderland team this season?
Most fans would say Lee Cattermole, and it would be hard to disagree. He’s a lot more than the thug most people seem to think of him as, and can pick out a pass as well as doing a good job protecting the back four. If he was playing for a more fashionable club, arguably he’d have an England call up. Special mentions also go to Seb Larsson and Patrick van Aanholt.
You are currently sitting two points off of the relegation zone, is there a lot of pressure on the team and manager?
I think there’s pressure on our strikers at the moment, because they’re the main reason we’re not doing as well as we possibly could be. At the moment there’s very little pressure at Poyet, partly because of the job he did last season, however there is a little frustration that he didn’t get a striker in in the summer, and this will only grow if we don’t get one in in January.
Have you been pleased by the work Poyet has done since he came in?
It’s hard not to be pleased to be honest. We could not have been in more of a mess when he came in, and to keep us up with Di Canio’s squad was more than some people could have hoped for. I think there is more pressure on this season because he’s had two transfer windows to make his mark upon the squad and there are question marks over how he has done.
Should Sunderland be looking to strengthen in the January window?
I think we need to sign a striker for sure, although whether we will get priced out of the market is another story. If we can as well, I think we need another defender. Injuries have left us short at the back recently, and Brown and O’Shea will have to be replaced in the long term, although if necessary this could wait till the summer.
If you had to choose two players from the West Ham team to come into the Sunderland XI who would it be?
I think I’d take Sakho and Downing, purely because we need to strengthen in those areas. Sakho has been scoring goals for fun, and Downing in the form he is in is an asset to any team, especially given our lack of creativity.
Do you feel that West Ham have out performed themselves this season, and is a top four finish sustainable?
I don’t think you will get top four, although the way you’re going at the moment top half is almost a certainty and Europe is not a totally unrealistic prospect. I just feel as though your recent form has gone unnoticed because of Southampton’s exploits, and now they’ve dropped off the pressure and expectation is on you lot. I also think other teams with more experience of that end of the table will come good, like Spurs and Everton, and that may just give them an edge. But given recent form, Europe is a definite possibility.
Finally what’s your prediction for the game?
Seen as though we’re specialists, I’m going to go for a 1-1 draw.