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End Of Season Views From... Simon Walsh

Hello there, this is Simon Walsh, Roker Report's very own Evil Emperor/Grand Poobah, and it's my turn to give some opinions on the season, and what an up and down season it's been. I can't remember a season with such ridiculous highs and the lowest of lows.

Anyway, it's been pretty eventful for me too. At the start of the season I was just a regular fan like anyone else. I suppose I still am, but one dark December day, feeling a bit ranty, I started up this site, and have genuinely been taken aback by the entire experience.

The amount of readers, the comments, the praise and some of the people we've been privileged to speak to has been truly astounding.

Anyway, enough of me gushing, now to speak my brains on the season gone...

Player Of The Season?

Simon: Much like everyone else, there really only appears to be one option, and that's Phil Bardsley. Whilst others have gone through golden patches such as Asamoah Gyan, and players such as Titus Bramble were magnificent at times but injured a little too often, Bardo has been exceptional considering most, including myself thought we'd seen the last of him in a Sunderland shirt at the start of the season. Definitely this season's most consistent performer.

Young Player Of The Season?

Simon: Jack Colback has impressed me massively since he's come into the team, and I think that position alongside Lee Cattermole is his to lose now, and should head into next season in pole position to start there. Simon Mignolet makes a very decent claim for the 'award' however has been let down by moments of inconsistency. That's not to dismiss Mignolet, but Colback has played with the maturity of a player ten years older than his age, and looks a tremendous prospect.

Best Signing Of The Season?

Simon: Running against the consensus pick of Titus Bramble, I'm plumping for Stephane Sessegnon. Sure he's been through some bad spots, and we're yet to see the true best of him, but I think Sess will be a massive player for us next season. His first touch is out of this world, and hopefully he can get a few more goals under his belt. We've signed a top class player here everyone.

Worst Player Of The Season?

Simon: Worst player is always gonna be a tough one, there's been times when you could have picked anyone out the squad! My nomination however goes to Marcos Angeleri, as will many people's. He hardly played, and when he did he was beyond terrible. Let himself down massively too with the comments about Steve Bruce, and should be shipped off soon. Good riddance.

Most Disappointing Signing Of The Season?

Simon: The most disappointing player is a close run competition between two players who had fantastic World Cups, and arrived with much fan fare - Sulley Muntari & Cristian Riveros. I'm going to plump for Muntari though. I wanted him to succeed, I really did, and championed his cause at every opportunity, however he just hasn't lived up to expectation at all.

Goal Of The Season?

Simon: Obviously Nedum Onuoha's mazy dribble against Chelsea was a belter, but for me it's Bardsley's strike from range against West Bromwich Albion. I've always been much more a fan of goals where they're leathered into the net as opposed to tippy-tappy stuff. Cracking goal from Bardsley that one, and he's hit a few good one's this season.

Game Of The Season?

Simon: Again I'm going slightly left-field here, but Blackpool away is my favourite. Everyone wondered how we'd react to Darren Bent dicking off to Aston Villa, and at the time Blackpool were still the media darlings everyone wanted to win. We put in a fine performance, and walked away with the win. Not that I'm discounting Chelsea or Bolton away too mind you, but Blackpool was a great result all things considered.

Out of ten, what would you rate Steve Bruce’s performance as manager this season?

Simon: Another toughie! Christ, I wish I hadn't even written the questions now! Well in a season of massive high's, lowest of lows and everything in between with the injuries and that, I'd put Bruce at a 6/10. Tremendous early promise, then it all went pearshaped. Gathered a bit back at the end of the season, and I refuse to blame him alone for the injury situation, it's just been very unfortunate, although not replacing Bent might have proved to be the undoing. I'm still prepared to give him more time though, it would be foolish to make a change. Overall, not bad, can do better, but still very much 'Bruce In'.

Which one moment summed up SAFC’s entire season?

Simon: Arsenal at home, Anton Ferdinand's clearance straight at Cesc Fabregas which looped in. We'd been doing pretty well, then there's one random bit of misfortune that threatened to run things off course massively. We got it back to 1-1, right at the death,

Of the loanees this season, which if any would you like to see stay permanently?

Simon: I'd love to see Danny Welbeck return, in fact I'd break the bank to sign him, however I think the signing of Nedum Onuoha is an absolute must. He's still very young and can fill multiple positions across the backline very well. I'd pay whatever it is City want for him. The rest, such as John Mensah & Sulley Muntari, thanks for the effort (or lack of) but we're better off looking else where.


Which player should be first out the door in the summer?

Simon: Brucey has done very well shifting the 'deadwood' and it needs to continue. Nyron Nosworthy & George McCartney are terrible players, and it's hard to believe they're still on the books of the club. Whoever wants them can take them in my mind. I'll even drive them there myself.

Give us one player you think SAFC simply must buy this summer (within reason)...

Simon: Lots of positions need filling, but my main concern is a partner for Asamoah Gyan, and I'm plumping for Moussa Sow of Lille. He's still relatively young, but seems to have it all. Might he be able to move to someone better than us? Definitely, but I never thought we could attract Gyan, and we did, so why not a player of Sow's caliber? Failing that perhaps Connor Wickham - a player with a very bright future.

What was your personal highlight of the season, something we might not know about?

Simon: The success of this site has been massively pleasing, but also the associated Podcast. The reception to it has been absolutely incredible, so much so that it was deemed New & Noteworthy by iTunes, and we cracked the Top 20 in the Sports Podcast charts. Not too shabby! Look for this to go from strength to strength. With regards to the blog though, thats still the bread and butter, and over 100,000 readers can't be wrong surely? Big pressure to keep it going.

And finally, any other thoughts or comments on how you feel the season went?

Simon: It was a bloody hard slog at times, and even at times you considered why we even bother any more, but you've got to keep going, keep believing and keep backing the lads even at their lowest. All in all you could say it was a typical Sunderland season! Let's hope next season with a few new faces is untypical, and we get up amongst the Europa League places. Although it's not going to be straight-forward is it?

Follow me on Twitter and stuff, I'm not that bad - @SimoWalsh & @RokerReport There's also the podcast too, see the link on the left hadn side of the page to subscribe, please! Oh go on!

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