RR: Sheffield Wednesday currently sit 8th in League One, nine points away from the automatic promotion places - would you say your start to this season has been underwhelming?
James Mappin: Very much so. We had a great start to the season. 3 wins out of 4. No goals conceded. But since the 2-0 win away at Rotherham things haven’t gone our way. 2 wins in the next 11 league games just isn’t good enough.
The problem is the manner in which we’re going about it.
Too many lapses in concentration and too many individual mistakes have cost us so far this season - 10 points dropped from winning positions shows our inability to control a game and put opponents to bed.
RR: Darren Moore failed to keep the club in Championship and has been unable to mount a serious promotion push so far, does he still have the support of the fanbase?
James Mappin: I don’t think anyone felt that Darren Moore didn’t keep us up. I think we all felt that he was a long term appointment and the vast majority of us had resigned to the fact that we would be playing League One football this season. I just don’t think we all thought that it would have gone down to the final game of the season for our fate to have been sealed.
In terms of whether he has the support of the fanbase. At the start of the season 100%. We all thought that the recruitment was tremendous. 14 new faces and some quality signings at that. However the results of late haven’t been great. His tactics have been questionable and his team selection at times has been quite frankly baffling.
Boos have rang out for the last 5 games and the boos are getting more prominent. The ‘Moore Out’ brigade seems to be gathering pace on social media too. I would say that on the whole, the support is mixed. It could be hostile if the result doesn’t go our way this evening.
RR: Wednesday were relegated via a points deduction last season, what is the current ownership situation and are you concerned for the club’s longevity moving forward?
James Mappin: Dejphon Chansiri put all his eggs in one basket when he took over the club in 2015 and it very nearly worked. We were 90 minutes away from the promise land. We’ve been paying for that ever since and I feel the chairman was badly advised throughout the whole process. During this summer it seems as if he’s given Darren Moore all the tools to do the job. We’ve made 14 signings (albeit frees and loans) but he appears to have loosened the previously tight reigns that he had on the decisions at the club.
As for longevity, he still seems committed to keeping the club afloat financially but it will be interesting to see what the next round of accounts say.
RR: To many football fans’ surprise, Moore handed Saido Berahino with a route back into English football on deadline day - how has he performed so far?
James Mappin: He started well. A goal on his home debut, and a well taken goal at that… but that’s about it. He looks like a player out of confidence and that showed at the weekend. He’s only started one game in the last four and has been in and out of the side throughout his time at S6.
Overall, he’s not lived up to the expectation when we signed him.
RR: Your side beat Sunderland to the loan signing of Everton defender Lewis Gibson in the summer, but he has only featured for 45 minutes this season. Has he suffered with injury issues?
James Mappin: You can have him if you want. We signed him and he was injured, and you’re right. He played 45 minutes in the pizza cup then started the following league game, came off at half time with an injury, and we’re yet to see him since. We’re suffering with defensive injuries and Lewis Gibson is just one of those on that list.
RR: Aside from the above-mentioned players, which players should Sunderland be wary of during tonight’s match?
James Mappin: Barry bannan is the obvious answer. He’s by far the best player in our squad, and some could say in the league in terms of his talent and passing ability.
But for me both Dennis Adeniran and Fisayo Dele-Bashiru have impressed me this season. Both play the central midfield role and have probably been the two most consistent players so far this season. FDB has just come into the side in recent weeks and the youngster has taken the opportunity with both hands. He’s picked up his first senior goal and looks can run at the defence which is what we need. Dennis Adeniran was one of the new recruits in the summer and much like FDB he can drive at the defence when he has the ball. Good passer of the ball and isn’t afraid to have a shot either.
RR: Former Wednesday winger Aiden McGeady is suspended for tonight’s match, are you pleased for your full-backs that he is unable to feature?
James Mappin: Any first team regular that isn’t able to play against us is always a positive for us. We’ve had injuries in our defence recently and they don’t fill me with much confidence. So yes, we’re glad he got sent off at the weekend.
RR: Which 11 players do you believe Moore will select and what sort of style of play can Lee Johnson’s men expect to encounter?
James Mappin: Honest answer. We don’t know. Darren Moore is yet to field the same starting XI in consecutive games and always makes 2-3 changes.
If you had to pin me down to an eleven then I would say Peacock-Farrell in goal, Palmer and Dunkley as a centre back pairing (if Iorfa and Hutchinson aren’t fit). Hunt and Johnson as full backs. Bannan and Adeniran as holding midfielders. Paterson in the number 10. Gregory as the number 9 with Shodipo and Berahino out wide.
As for the style of play, we said this in the podcast this week. It’s such a difficult question to answer. We’re yet to show any sort of identity this season. We’re starting to play a little more direct but our approach is slow and deliberate but Moore makes a point of adapting our style of play to the opposition - much the the annoyance of the fans.
RR: Sunderland have failed to win any of their last three competitive matches against Sheffield Wednesday - what is your honest prediction for the final score?
James Mappin: Sunderland will be looking to bounce back from two poor defeats. Probably the worst time to play you. Having said that we’ve played well against the teams at the top this season. Wins against Wigan, Rotherham and Bolton so far this season.
There’s going to be goals but I think it’s going to end in a score draw, either 1-1 or 2-2. Pains me to say it because we’re in desperate need of three points.