Opposition view: Sunderland

By Ric Turner, Mon 10 February 2014 09:12

Opposition view: SunderlandAdam Roper from sunderlandworld.com gives us the lowdown on Wednesday's opponents

What are your expectations for the rest of this season?

I think for the rest of this season the main objective is to just avoid relegation. This has been very much the case from around September when we were really struggling to pick up points. And I think at the time, when we had only 1 point going into October, a lot of Sunderland fans were optimistic about actually avoiding setting another unwanted record, never mind surviving the drop, but since we've appointed Gus he seems to have really got the players into playing his style of play and we're really starting to see the differences. Not only that, a lot of fans are now starting to think that we can avoid the drop.

Are you happy with the manager?

At the minute, I'm more than happy with the way Poyet is getting the team to play. He's not only taken us off the bottom of the table, he's guided us to a cup final, brought us out of the relegation zone, and led us to two victories over Newcastle. And when you look at our recent managers, that's some record. Not only that, he also realises that the task at hand is far from over, so he's not letting the success go to his head. As long as he keeps going the way he is, we should be safe under him.

Who are your key players?

At the minute our key player is the former City man Adam Johnson, January was his best month in a Sunderland shirt, and he won the player of the month to show for it. He grabbed some crucial goals for us. Another key player for us is Ki Sung Yeung, he's been a fantastic central midfield presence for us, and his passing has been second to none. And he's a player that I'd like to see signed permanently in the summer, but whether Swansea will let him leave is another story.

Were you happy with the business conducted during both transfer windows?

Looking back, some of the business we conducted during the summer window probably wasn't the best. Bringing in 14 players always had risks of backfiring and some of those players have already left the club, albeit on loan. Cabral and Modibo Diakite were two players that signed on a free and never really challenged for a first team spot and have since been loaned out. Then there's the likes of Duncan Watmore, El Hadji Ba and David Moberg Karlsson, three young lads that were brought in for the future. Karlsson and Watmore have been loaned out, too, to gain some first team experience. As for the January window, it was a case of Poyet starting to have an impact on the squad, and the players he has brought in are giving an outline as to the type of squad he'd like, a South American one, since three of the five players he's signed are from the continent.

Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?

There were a few lads that we signed in the summer, as I said, who have the potential to be top players in the future, Duncan Watmore is already impressing for Hibernian in the SPL on loan. David Moberg Karlsson, who is also on loan in Scotland, at Kilmarnock, has also got a bright future ahead of him, and While El Hadji ba is a little bit older than those two, he is still a bright prospect than We'd been watching for some time before we actually signed him on a free in the summer.

Your Achilles heel?

Shooting ourselves in the foot. That or defending set pieces. We've made a habit of 'gifting' the opposition goals, something we almost did on Saturday. Bardsley's suicidal pass resulted in Wes Brown getting himself a red card for a 'professional foul' add that to all the other Red cards we've had and own goals we've conceded and you see just how much it seems to hurt us. The other problem, defending set pieces, we seem to switch of at vital moments like corners and that allows the opposition in to score. It happened against Hull, Fulham, United twice, and that's only the last month. It's something that we've needed to work on for a while and yet we still seem to suffer.

If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?

Can we have them all? Please? Talk about a kid in a toy shop at Christmas! Personally, I'd go with Sergio Aguero. Simply because on his day he has the ability to rip any defence apart, and his finishing is second to none. He is the kind of player that can win you football matches, and titles, but I'm sure you know that.

What is your perception of City as a club?

As a club, I view City as one of those clubs where the majority of their fans are the ones that have supported the club through thick and thin, and ones that have lived within a stone's throw of the ground. Obviously it will have been difficult growing up in the same city as the 'mighty' United, but now City fans have a lot of things to celebrate, and for the supporters that stuck with the club through thick and thin, I genuinely feel happy for them. I just hope Sunderland can have a run of success that mirrors yours in my lifetime!

Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?

Vito Mannone
Phil Bardsley
John O'Shea
Santiago Vergini
Marcos Alonso
Ki Sung Yeung
Jack Colback
Liam Bridcutt
Fabio Borini
Adam Johnson
Jozy Altidore

Even though you've failed to score in your last 2 games, I really can't see anything other than a City win. 3-0 City.