Dropping The Gloves #8 - Scott Johnston Of TheFootyBlog.net

Alex Livesey

The feature that sees us talk to the finest blogs around about their opinions on Sunderland as outsiders is back, as we talk to Scott Johnston of the fantastic

Stoke are known for a physical game and strong set pieces, Arsenal for possession football. Do you consider Sunderland to have a similar identity, and if so what?

Scott Johnston: I think Sunderland are very much a Martin O'Neill team. He is known to like his sides to be efficient, hard working and as easy on the eye as possible (without being undisciplined). I think Sunderland are built like that, so in between Stoke and Arsenal.

How competitive do you think Sunderland can hope to be in the transfer market? Which clubs do you consider their natural competitors for signings?

SJ: I think they have to be cute in the transfer market. Martin O'Neill is good at getting the best out of players and tries to pick up players that have something to prove. He usually needs to be able to spend a healthy amount of cash, you look at the Fletcher deal and see that is more than quite a few in the league.

Natural competitors for Sunderland in the transfer market would be mid table - to top half sides like Newcastle Utd and Everton - just ahead of Fulham and Stoke.

From your vantage point, what would you consider to be the iconic or most memorable Sunderland moment during your time watching football?

SJ: The Play-off final between Sunderland and Charlton in 1998 was fairly exciting and hard to forget.

Then, in 2003 I remember a game when Sunderland were managed by Howard Wilkinson that they conceded three own goals, that was memorable.

But a game that stands out for me was there win over Newcastle at St James Park, that was to be Ruud Gullit's last game in charge at Newcastle. The weather was terrible with the rain pouring down and Kevin Phillips scored a cracking lob.

Niall Quinn claims that Sunderland have dropped their 'yo-yo club' tag. Do you agree with that and consider Sunderland now an established main stay of the Premier League, or is it a club you would still not be surprised to see involved in a relegation battle?

SJ: I don't think they will be in any serious threat of relegation with Martin O'Neill in charge at the club. The squad is good enough to finish top half in my opinion.

I think all clubs like to pride themselves on quality of their support. Comparatively speaking, and as a neutral observer, how would you rate the Sunderland fans?

SJ: They always seem to be very passionate and vocal, which is what I'd want from home fans.

Over the years they have had some dodgy squads, players and managers but throughout the fans have backed the club and been patient. Which impresses me.

Big thanks to Scott for taking the time to talk to us. Go check out his site The Footyblog now, it's excellent.

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