RR: Antoine Semenyo, then. What do you think about him as a player?
Stanley: I really like the kid, it’s become a bit of an on-running joke with the podcast about how often I go on about Antoine Semenyo. I think there’ll be a few listeners who will be glad to see him leave the club for a bit!
RR: I read that he was set to sign for Chelsea before their transfer ban last year. Is he really THAT good? Do you think he could make it at an elite Premier League club one day?
Stanley: You can see why Chelsea were sniffing around him when you see his technical and physical attributes. I’m personally glad we rejected the bid as I think he’ll go on to be worth far more than the £2 million we allegedly rejected. I don’t know if he’ll make it at an “elite” Premier League club, but I do think he’s got all the tools to go very far in the game. Ever since seeing him play for our youth teams, I’ve expected big things.
RR: How did he fare at Newport? Did you expect him to come back and be a first teamer?
Stanley: He was exceptional at Newport, anyone who watched them regularly or who even just saw their triumph over Leicester in the FA cup will know that he was on fire that season. I was really pleased that the club rejected the offer from Chelsea, the way his season then panned out was disappointing, however.
He had an outstanding debut and then only 3 appearances thereafter. I can never tell what Lee Johnson thinks about young players, he’ll often bring them into the team out of nowhere and then remove them completely from the squad often unnecessarily. Semenyo really just needs regular games.
RR: Why hasn’t he been able to force his way into the Bristol City team this season? How has he performed when he has played?
Stanley: I think he’s suffered a little bit from a lack of confidence. Afobe’s injury left the door open up top as he was our only other mobile striker to play alongside Weimann. He didn’t score in his 9 games, but I personally thought he was pretty useful!
He was doing a lot more of the hold up play than he was probably used to at Newport and despite not scoring did a good job overall, in my opinion. He’s had two very questionable performances where the fans really started to get on his back, many accusing him of laziness. Personally I think he was just a bit lacking in confidence and was afraid to try things.
Despite playing nine times he’s only featured in a League loss once this season and that was a last minute sub appearance.
RR: Do you think that this is a good signing for Sunderland?
Stanley: I think if he hits the ground running and the fans give him some love and support he could absolutely smash it for you guys. He’s such an exciting player when he’s on the ball so there’s a chance that he’ll win fans over quickly. The big thing is getting that first goal. At his best he’s electric, honestly, he can do it all, he just needs to find his mojo again.
RR: What sort of future does he have at Bristol City? Do you think he’s capable of being a first teamer eventually, or could he end up moving on?
Stanley: I personally do, maybe he needs to have a look inwards with regard to his application and his ability to take in tactics or instruction. I feel that he could smash this second half of the season and come back to us ready to give it all another shot. Maybe he’ll end up getting another loan next season but I do feel he’ll eventually come back to us and become a first teamer one day.
RR: Sunderland play in a 3-4-2-1 system. Can you see him fitting into that formation easily, and if so, in which position?
Stanley: Left of the two or as the one up front, I know that he personally sees himself as a left winger of the Rashford sort of mould. He was finding playing up top for us a bit awkward. He’s so unbelievably strong that I do feel he will end up as an all-round striker. I imagine he’ll start at left wing and be given a bit of freedom, he probably misses the space you get out wide and would love to have a run at some League One fullbacks.
RR: Sunderland are desperate for some direct, pacy options in attack. What sort of attributes will Semenyo offer us?
Stanley: Direct and pacy are two perfect descriptors. Honestly I’ll say it again, you will be in awe of the kid’s strength. He really bounces off players twice his size, can use both feet, and has a thunderous shot when he gets an opening. His close control is really good, and if he has a chance to dribble at a defender he’ll take that chance.
RR: What are the biggest weaknesses in his game? Where does he need to improve?
Stanley: His finishing leaves a lot to be desired, he normally goes for power rather than accuracy, so on’t expect too many finessed shots placed elegantly into the top corner. He’s gonna try break the net and send the keeper’s wrists to space.
I’m not 100% sure if he’s got a great amount of stamina, he doesn’t seem able to really get about the pitch and harass defenders into making mistakes. Maybe this’ll be less crucial at LW however. Lots of City fans question his work rate, I don’t see it but perhaps I’m wearing Semenyo tinted spectacles.
RR: What would you say to any Sunderland fans who aren’t sure about us making this signing?
Stanley: Give him some love, it’s been so long since Bristol City have produced a good striker and we really hope that Semenyo can be the first for a while. I hope that he gets you lot off your seat and gives you something to shout about. He’s a good lad and if you get the best out of him I promise you that you’ll all be buzzing he’s come up!