Opposition view: Sunderland
By Ric Turner, Thu 04 October 2012 17:58
Ahead of Saturday's game at The Etihad, Bluemoon caught up with Peter Sixsmith from Salut Sunderland to get the lowdown on the opposition...
What are your expectations for this season?
Not to be anywhere near the bottom 6; to take at least four points of our Tyneside neighbours; to beat Everton at home; to win one of the cups (ok, that's hope rather than expectation).
Are you happy with the manager?
I think that most Sunderland fans are happy to have a grown up manager who knows his way around the game, after a novice in Roy Keane and a man whose limitations became more obvious as the months rolled by in Steve Bruce. And O'Neill is a Sunderland fan - it's rumoured that Bruce wasn't.
Who are your key players?
Steven Fletcher, seeing as he is the only player to score for us in the league. He is a good centre forward who fits in with the style of play that O'Neill favours.
Stephane Sessegnon. He hasn't played brilliantly this season, but if he does, watch out.
John O'Shea. He marshals the defence very well and is a sound and positive captain, who manages to stay on the field for 90 minutes.
Simon Mignolet. Potentially a very good keeper. He may need to be on Saturday.
Were you happy with the business conducted during the transfer window?
After some of the distinctly average signings over the last few years, to bring in four established PL players in Fletcher, Johnson, Saha and Cuellar is a sign of the quality that O'Neill brings to the club. We also reduced our wage bill by moving on a number of fringe/never going to make it players. So, yes, a good window.
Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?
Not much in this category. David Meyler, a 22 year old has recovered from a long term injury and is potentially a very good player. He has a Gaelic sports background and will run all day - sometimes with the ball.
Your Achilles heel?
Not a great deal of flair or imagination in the centre of midfield and we can be overrun here. Lack of scoring options as well; Fletcher or Fletcher or Fletcher - that's it for goals.
If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?
We got him in the window and hope that he will perform consistently for us. YaYa Toure looks as if he could improve with a stint on Wearside.
What is your perception of City as a club?
Still "one of us", like Everton, Villa and the like. Not yet in the obnoxious group of clubs who seem to think that they run the game (Manchester's other team, Chelsea, Arsenal and my least favourite club, Liverpool),but you need to be careful. Fans still solid but don't get too far up yourselves. Take those silly banners down as well; it reminds me of Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge. Bring back the woman with the bell.
Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?
Team. Mignolet; Gardner, O'Shea, Bramble, Rose; Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher.
2-1 to us with Fletcher and Saha (on as a sub) getting the goals. No point in going if I don't think we can win, is there!!!