Sunderland will play their first match away from home this season on Saturday against Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
Whilst Sunderland drew their opening match against Oxford, Ipswich beat Burton 1-0 away from home courtesy of a first-half Luke Garbutt goal. The last time the two sides met at Portman Road Ipswich hammered the lads 5-2, with ex Sunderland forward Martyn Waghorn claiming a goal and three assists.
Ahead of the match, Matthew Crichton spoke to Ipswich fan Benjamin Bloom of the Blue Monday Podcast, who answered our questions regarding his team’s transfer business and what we can expect from The Tractor Boys during the match.
MC: You began the new League One campaign with a credible 1-0 away win at Burton Albion last Saturday - what are your expectations for this season?
BB: It is all a little bit unknown at the moment, after so many decades above this tier we would hope to get out of it at the first attempt, but it’s not exactly that simple is it!
MC: What style of play can Sunderland expect from Ipswich and which players will cause ourselves the most problems?
BB: I am not sure - we adopted a 4-4-2 formation on Saturday which sat back and countered with not a lot of possession, however when Burton took control of the midfield a 4-2-3-1 system looked a little more assured and fits Alan Judge, arguably our best player, a little better.
MC: Ipswich manager Paul Lambert recently spoke openly of his frustrations in the transfer market, are you satisfied with your business so far?
BB: Not really but nobody is surprised at Ipswich when not a lot happens on the transfer front - that said we have retained many capable League One level players.
MC: Lambert has been relegated in consecutive seasons having joined both Stoke and Ipswich during difficult periods; are you confident he is the man to take the club forward?
BB: Hopefully, he has reunited the fans with the club nice and quickly but we all know he needs to deliver a low single digit finish to breed confidence that he is going to take the club forward.
MC: Your new striker James Norwood scored over 30 goals in all competitions last season, do you believe he is good enough to succeed at the top end of League One?
BB: I think time will tell, he plays with a lot of personality and seems capable of hustling and bustling to create chances for himself - it will depend on our pattern of play and how and where the ball arrives to him. I think he could do well though.
MC: Ipswich possess an array of youth potential in their squad such as: Myles Kenlock, Flynn Downes and Idris El Mizouni who all featured against Burton. Are you hoping the club will use League One as a chance to give younger players more opportunities?
BB: Very much so - Downes looks ready, El Mizouni and Dobra will be dripped in and out. It’s really make or break for Kenlock and Emmanuel the full backs though who need to put a lot of decent minutes on the board at this level or they could fade into the background.
MC: Mick McCarthy enjoyed successful spells at both Sunderland and Ipswich, do you think yourselves would have been relegated last season should he have stayed?
BB: Our xG had us finishing 22nd in Mick’s last season, only good seasons for Waghorn and Bialkowski kept us higher. Had Mick stayed and we’d not sold Waghorn, Webster, Garner, McGoldrick and not retained Celina we would’ve likely finished around 18th. With all the sales Mick would likely have been relegated too, but Mick wouldn’t have sold all those players so it’s a hard one to judge hypothetically.
MC: Ipswich competed in the championship for almost twenty years, does it feel strange competing in a new league that you are unknown to?
BB: It feels massively strange but refreshing not to be going to Derby and Birmingham for the 100th season running!
MC: Ipswich owner Marcus Evans has received heavy scrutiny regarding his running of the club, are you hopeful that a takeover could happen at some point in during this campaign?
BB: A take-over is massively unlikely, Ipswich owes Evans a fortune in debts and he’d rather run it at a small (to him) loss than sell at way below it’s potential value.
MC: Lastly, what do you think the score will be at Portman Road on Saturday?
BB: A low scoring draw - so roll on a 5 goal thriller...