clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Sunderland v Rotherham United - Sky Bet Championship

Filed under:

Fan Focus: Rovers fan Daniel feels it was “the right time” for Bradley Deck to join Sunderland

Ahead of our clash with Blackburn tonight, we spoke to Daniel Ainsworth of Rovers Chat to get the lowdown on John Dahl Tomasson’s side.

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Can we talk about that crazy final day before we begin? Blackburn came from 3-1 down on the final day to beat Millwall and send Sunderland to the playoffs - I imagine your fanbase was thinking where was this before when Tony Mowbray achieved what he was let go for not achieving?

Yeah, it was an eventful day, to say the least!

Luckily (although we’d much rather have got in the playoffs), we knew you guys were winning so it eased the blow a little at full-time - but it doesn’t stop you thinking of the points you dropped.

Fair play to Tony, he did an excellent job last year, but it is frustrating!

Over the summer we often discussed Blackburn’s ownership troubles when it came to links with Danny Batth, what is the current situation there?

It’s tough. The picture isn’t clear yet, and we don’t know when it will be.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the Venkys (our owners) are from India and there have been financial restrictions imposed on them meaning it is not entirely possible to keep funding us like previously.

It meant we had to cut back a little on our summer transfer business, and that clearly affected our chances of signing Danny Batth on a permanent deal.

It was frustrating, but we did manage to get the positions we mainly wanted.

Doncaster Rovers v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet League One
Tony Mowbray won promotion from League One with Bradley Dack in his Blackburn side.
Photo by Rachel Holborn - CameraSport via Getty Images

What effect have those issues had on the future of manager John Dahl Tomasson?

He was talking quite a lot about his frustrations and as the weeks went on through pre-season, it did feel like he was prepared to walk.

As it stands, we still have him at the helm and he seems to be somewhat satisfied now that we managed to bring a centre-back and a striker in before the deadline day, although he didn’t want us to loan out our midfielder (John Buckley to Sheffield Wednesday) so that has been brought up.

I think he’ll stay unless one of the big teams comes calling when their manager inevitably leaves (stay away Southampton).

Looking at your start to the season, Blackburn are well in the mix of things, how would you summarise performances so far and which players have stood out?

We’ve had a really positive, and unexpected, start to the season. We’ve got 10 points from six games, and the three we have dropped points in could have gone differently.

We were 2-0 down at Rotherham and pulled it back to be level, and then we lost at home to Hull but had 75 minutes with ten men and still only lost 2-1.

We also lost 3-0 at Plymouth, but the game was not how the scoreline makes it sound and on another day, we’d have won.

Sammie Szmodics has stood out as expected. He took the number 10 role off Dack’s hands last year, with Sammie’s tireless running a big factor in that. He has scored four times this season and probably should have had more.

There’s also Adam Wharton in the middle. His passing range is excellent, and probably unrivalled in the rest of the team. Adam won’t be playing in the Championship this time next year, I’m convinced of it.

Hayden Carter has been solid at the heart of defence as well, and he looks to be developing into a top Championship defender.

We’ve got a lot of players to pick out, and we’re arguably a goal-scoring striker away from building on last year.

Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship
Ellis Simms scored a last minute winner when the two sides last met on Boxing Day.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

One transfer between our two clubs this summer was Bradley Dack coming to Wearside on a free, were fans sad to see him go or was it time for a change?

Can my answer be a mix of both?

As a Rovers fan who didn’t see the Premier League win or the League Cup win, the League One promotion was the first ‘success’ I saw, and Bradley Dack was a huge part of that.

He helped us from a side on the way down to a side that could regularly compete near the right end of the Championship again, so I’m forever grateful to Dack for that.

However, it felt the right time in my opinion for him to move on. His wage was high and he wouldn’t get much game time this year, and it didn’t feel right stopping him from playing football when he’s had so long out already.

I’d have kept him in an ideal world, but I get why he left.

When discussing the future of Ross Stewart, it was mentioned that Blackburn for example ran Ben Brereton-Diaz’s contract down and ended up losing him on a free. In hindsight, do you wish he was sold when the money was offered?

From what our CEO is suggesting, we didn’t have too many bids in for Diaz, and the only one came with too much short notice.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I’d love to go back now and take it because we didn’t make the top six anyway, but it is what it is.

Cadiz CF v Villarreal CF - LaLiga EA Sports
Ben Brereton-Diaz is yet to score in his first four games for Villarreal.
Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

One other notable departure was goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski joining Luton, how has deputy Ainsley Pears stepped up so far?

He’s had a decent season so far, barring his mistakes at Plymouth which raised some question marks about whether he should be replaced by Leopold Wahlstedt, our summer signing.

He’s come on leaps and bounds from when he made mistakes in cup fixtures, and he is showing signs he can be our number one.

The issue is that those mistakes stay in your mind and as each mistake comes, the calls for him to be replaced will come louder.

Looking at your incomings, who has impressed you so far and which transfers appear more underwhelming?

It’s a limited pool to pick from, we signed seven players and they’ve barely had much game time between them.

Niall Ennis arrived on a free from Plymouth Argyle and has looked lively during his time on the pitch, but he has spent time out injured and is yet to make a league start.

We’re most excited to see Arnor Sigurdsson. He arrived on a season-long loan, with an option to extend, from CSKA Moscow, and has shone on the biggest stages, scoring against Real Madrid. He looks to be a real talent, but has been injured since arriving - shock!

The underwhelming one would have to be Sondre Tronstad, although I don’t think he’s been too bad. Tomasson left him out of the matchday squad at the weekend by choice, so it clearly hasn’t worked too well in his eyes.

Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland - Premier League
A famous photo - Sunderland’s last win at Ewood Park came in 2008, with Kenwyne Jones and Djibral Cisse scoring.
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Who do Tomasson will select to start and how do you think he will set up tactically against Sunderland?

I’d predict Aynsley Pears to start in net, with a back four of Callum Brittain, Hayden Carter, Dominic Hyam and Harry Pickering.

I think we’ll see Joe Rankin-Costello get a long-awaited start in the midfield, alongside Adam Wharton and Sammie Szmodics. The uncertainty comes from the front three with Sam Gallagher a doubt, so I’ll go for Ryan Hedges, Andrew Moran and Harry Leonard.

We’re good on the counter-attack so I expect we’ll put the press on and try and win the ball back, and then get up the pitch quickly. We played out well from the back the other day, so hopefully that continues.

Sunderland’s last victory at Ewood Park came back in 2008 - what is your prediction for the final score?

I’ll go 1-1. We’ve not been clinical enough for me to suggest we’ll score more than one because I’m expecting us to get fewer chances.


Does Mowbray’s ‘plan b’ need substituting?


A View From The Away End: London mackems head even further south to Plymouth!


Fan Letters: “The spine of Sunderland’s team needs to be stronger”

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Roker Report Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report