Ok you sexy little things. You know the craic by now. Find an esteemed member of the football blogging community, and find out what they really think of Sunderland.
So lets just jump into it this week, as it is an international week and I'm knackered! Contribution #5 comes from Adam Bate of the excellent Ghost Goal blog. Ever get sick to death about so-called expert pundits and other media focusing on the most silly little detail whilst the briliance of actual football somehow gets lost in the discussion? Then Ghost Goal is the site for you (after Roker Report, of course).
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?
I’m a bit of a geek with the football stats so I must admit I get influenced as much by studying them as I am by the MOTD pundits and catching a few games a season. The stats seems to suggest Sunderland play an above average amount of long balls, below average short passes and like to bang crosses in.
It’s a bit of a boring answer but you’re not Arsenal and you’re not Stoke but somewhere between. Who knows, maybe that’s the problem – every side needs an identity to their play and perhaps Steve Bruce doesn’t quite know what that is at the moment?
Taking money out of it, how competitive do you think Sunderland can hope to be in the transfer market? Which clubs do you consider their natural competitors for signings?
I think it’s a big club because there are 40+ teams in England that can attract 25,000 people when things are going well – there’s far fewer that are capable of getting 40,000 going to their games. For that reason alone, you’d be tempted to put Sunderland into the Aston Villa, Everton, Leeds and Newcastle bracket.
I think all clubs of a decent size that don’t have a sheikh or an oligarch in charge are dreaming that FFP will be the answer to their dreams – a day of reckoning where they can rise up to fulfil their potential. To be honest, I don’t think it’s likely to happen quite like that sadly.
From your vantage point, what would you consider to be the iconic or most memorable Sunderland moment during your time watching football?
I’m aware of the ’73 FA Cup final but that was a bit before my time. I suppose, like many people, I think of Quinn and Phillips together causing havoc but if I’m honest it’s a couple of penalty misses that for some reason have stayed in my head.
I’ll always remember the 4-4 against Charlton and, in particular, Micky Gray’s penalty. It was a sad end to a cracking game and I was backing Sunderland – for some reason, I always tend to want the bigger team to go up… I’m odd like that.
The other one is not so famous but I can’t get it out my head. I remember watching on TV when Jeff Whitley tried to dink his penalty in a play-off semi final and the camera cut to Mick McCarthy looking absolutely disgusted. As a Wolves fan, it’s a look I’ve become used to but I think that was the first time I saw it. It really sums up Mick’s attitude to the game – be a man’s man and whatever you do don’t try anything vaguely cute!
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?
I don’t think of Sunderland as a yo-yo club. In fact, as recently as a year ago I thought Sunderland were a nailed-on top half team. But with Bent and Gyan gone and not adequately replaced it wouldn’t be a huge shock if you were dragged into it.
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?
I think Sunderland fans have a great reputation nationally. Passionate support without the negative connotations that come with, say, Millwall, Leeds or Cardiff.