Sunderland fan and A Love Supreme contributor Alex Miller gives us the lowdown on Sunday’s opponents, who have adapted to life in League One fairly well since relegation from the Championship last term.
You’re off to a fairly decent start in the League with four points from the opening two games. Are your fans happy with the start, or did you expect maximum points at this stage?
I’d say the vast number of supporters are happy with the start, after years of negativity there seems to be a shift in mentality at the club and I think there will be more patience this year. Saying that, I think four points from a possible six isn’t bad.
It’s just a shame how we conceded the goal against Luton as it would have been nice to have held on for the three points. To have won both games would have been brilliant, but with key players such as Dylan McGeouch, Aiden McGeady and Charlie Wyke still yet to feature this season Jack Ross is still yet to see his best team.
Are you happy with the club’s transfer dealings this summer?
Overall, I’d say we’ve covered most of the positions we needed without spending a great deal. We’re still yet to see two of our key signings as I said in McGeouch and Wyke, but I think that we’ve done well in getting a mix of free players and buying some talent.
The likes of Max Power, Glen Loovens and Jon McLaughlin add experience at a good level. We have a relatively young side, but I have been impressed so far with what we’ve brought in. With the loan market still open I would expect us to bring in one more player.
You’ve faced Charlton, who were in the play off picture last year and Luton who emphatically won promotion from League Two last year. What do you make to the quality of League One so far?
So far, I’ve been impressed. Charlton had a good side but with injuries just seem to be lacking that depth. We were poor in the first half of the game and it took us till the break to wake up. It’s all very new to us in League One and at this moment in time, it’s hard to tell how much of a gap there is between League One and the Championship.
The Luton game was different and as it was our first away game it came with different challenges. We are the big fish in this league (without trying to sound big headed) but, every team will want to beat us a bit more. Luton were physical but had some quality for sure. It was a tough game and I’d expect many similar this year.
There has been a lot of change at Sunderland and whilst there are still some remnants from your Premier League days, there has been plenty of investment in younger players from further down the pyramid – who should we watch out for in your side on Sunday?
We still have players from a multitude of different managers, but I think Lynden Gooch who has come through our academy is probably our best player. It’s a testament to his affection for the club that he’s still here. He had a fine end to the season last year and has carried that on to this campaign. The American winger is quick, strong and has an eye for goal.
Josh Maja has also had a fine start to the year and has scored two great goals, it’s his first full season as a key member of the squad and it’s easy to forget that he’s only 19.
There is also some local talent coming through such as George Honeyman, who is now captain. How important is it that you bring some local talent through into the first team?
It’s massively important- we’ve seen it in the past, with Jordan Henderson and Jordan Pickford. To see two of our own playing in the World Cup was a special feeling. As far as the current crop goes, Honeyman was the ideal choice for captain. He’s Sunderland through and through and it’s his dream to lift a trophy for the club, which isn’t entirely unrealistic this year.
The biggest breakout player from the academy is midfielder Bali Mumba, he’s only sixteen and he’s slotted right into the side. Last year he was doing his GCSE’s and now he’s playing in front of 30 odd thousand which just seems mad- he’s living the dream.
Lee Cattermole is still on the books but seems to be having to settle for a place on the bench nowadays. What’s happened there?
Ahh Cattermole, it’s a difficult case with Lee. He’s on a big contract which still has two years left to run and it just seems as if he’s lost his ability which made him the player he was. Personally, I think at times our fans are a little too harsh on him, saying he has been the rotten core for too long. I do have a bit of sympathy for him, he’s been with us for going on ten years now and over the past few years he’s got used to being in a losing side.
The constant feeling of losing and losing and never knowing when we’re going to win seems to have affected Lee more than most. I believe whether it’s at Sunderland or elsewhere if were to play in a winning side and get his mojo back he could return to the player he was. Cattermole hasn’t enjoyed playing football for years now and it’s a shame to see how it’s affected him.
Which Scunthorpe player would you sign if given the opportunity?
I’m not going to lie I haven’t managed to see a lot of Scunthorpe over the past few years but from the outset, Josh Morris looks a good player. His record speaks for Itself and I think he could do a good job on the left for us if McGeady departed from the club. I think we could do with a few more goal scorers from midfield too.
How will you line up and have you got a score prediction for us?
I’d expect a similar line up to what we have fielded in the first two games, it will be intriguing to see if Mumba continues in midfield. Prediction wise, I’m going to say, 2-0 Sunderland