Writer: Gary Johnson
Date:Thursday September 9 2010
1)So Worbo, we finally meet again in the Premier League. How has your pre season and opening games of the campaign gone so far under Martinez?
Pre-season wasn`t too bad, we had a training camp in Austria and played a couple of games over there, then the usual run of friendlies against lower league opposition and we also faced Dundee United and Real Zaragoza, but to be honest I don`t think you should pay too much attention to preseason results, the team gets changed round to give everyone a game and its all about getting the fitness levels up and being ready for the opening day.
So with that in mind the opening day then was a massive let down, Blackpool at home wasn`t a case of will we win but how many will we win by, caught with our pants down is an understatement, the 4-0 defeat could and should have been more, Blackpool out fought us, out thought us and wanted it more, a big lesson learned of not to count your chickens.
Chelsea a week later, they knocked six past us, gulp, two games into the season, ten goals conceded none scored bottom of the table, the worst possible start, some fans got on the bosses back and it felt bad, but then we got what we desperately needed an away game, Hartlepool in the Carling Cup, the pressure was off, the team played with a little freedom and banged in three goals keeping a clean sheet in the process, suddenly confidence is given a boost, off we go to White Hart Lane grab all three points with a one nil win and its all turned around.
So to answer your question preseason as expected the first few games of the new season looks like the Wigan Athletic rollercoaster ride has started again.
2) It seems that all Summer Sunderland were trying to get your best players. How do your fans view Sunderland after we have poached Cattermole, Bramble and also tried persistently for Figueroa and N'Zogbia?
Sunderland as a club no gripes at all, your manager different kettle of fish altogether. I think without getting myself into trouble with the solicitors it is fairly obvious and well known that Steve Bruce uses the press to let players know he is interested in them, when he was at Wigan he did this and he is at it again at Sunderland, I suppose it gets under your skin more when it`s one of your clubs players that he is incessantly linked with, I can tell you when its half your team it really does start to get annoying.
Bruce also knows the wages that the Wigan players earn, their bonuses etc so it makes negotiating little incentives that much easier and obviously gives him a means to unsettle players.
3) How do you feel N'Zogbia will perform when he made it clearly obvious he wants to move away, with some reports saying he was desperate to link up with Bruce and ex players, will he be the same player or will he rot until January?
I think Charlie, when he gets his place back, will perform to his usual standard, he is a class player, very talented and creative, his problem though will be getting his place in the team back.
There has obviously been some sort of disturbance behind the scenes, Martinez has spoken about the rest of the Latics squad losing their respect for N`Zogbia and says he will need to win their trust again, but he is too good a player to be left to rot in the stands.
As for joining up with Bruce again I can`t understand that one, he has come on leaps and bounds since potato head left, he is actually involved in the game now as opposed to Bruce`s tactics of punting the ball into the corners and they only worked together for four months anyway before the lure of Sunderland became too much for Steve 'thats for sure` Bruce.
4) Were you sad to see Bramble leave after such a big impact he had in the past few seasons for Wigan? Will we see a totally new player to the one we saw with Newcastle?
Bramble was immense for the Latics, always gave 100%, a great club man, a no nonsense defender that all the fans loved, sad to see him go? I was gutted. I honestly believed he would become club captain after Mario Melchiot left and thought he`d see his career out with us. I rate Roberto Martinez very highly but I think selling Bramble is a big mistake.
As Newcastle rivals you will have been overjoyed by the high profile clangers that the big man dropped at St. James` Park but I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the consistently high level of performances that he will put in this season and I will be very surprised if that come May you are not naming one Titus Bramble as your fans player of the season.
5) What are your ambitions for this season? Which player do you think will make the biggest impact under Martinez?
Our ambitions as always are to ensure that we stay in the Premier League, hopefully we can achieve that with a little comfort and even push for mid-table mediocrity, now that would be a good season, throw in a good cup run and I`d be ecstatic .
We have a clutch of good youngsters, Diame (who scored at your place last season), McCarthy, Moses, Cleverley, Di Santo, plus we have signed Ronnie Stam, Antolin Alcaraz and striker Mauro Boselli who all look like they could have a big season, but we appear to have a joker up our sleeve in loan signing Ali Al-Habsi
Chris Kirkland has high profile injury problems, at times he looks like an old man and you really do feel for him because he was/is a class keeper but he`s cost us dearly in some games. For the last two matches Al-Habsi has stepped up to the mantle, kept two clean sheets and looked every bit the top class keeper we were told that he was, to be honest I think Kirkland will struggle to get his place back in the team.
6) According to some reports and after reading one of your match reports you only took 64 fans to White Hart Lane when you won in the league. We are taking almost 5,000 to DW on Saturday so do you think this is why certain players want to join Sunderland because of their passionate and loyal supporters or is it all money driven?
I think the official figure for the visiting fans to White Hart Lane was 640, lazy journalism from the southern biased press so don`t take too much notice of that.
If points were given out on attendances then I`d worry until then I don`t really care, we get passionate support and we have earned our place in the Premier League on merit, just like Sunderland, or were you only promoted because you fill your stadium three times a season?
Players move for money, well 99% do, why wouldn`t they? If I got head hunted by a rival employer and they said come and work for us because you get loud cheers every week I`d think 'what`? But if they said 'we`ll tipple your salary` well then that would turn my head.
7) Have you been impressed with Bruce's signings of Onuoha, Welbeck, Mensah, Al-Muhammadi, Riveros, Gyan, Mignolet and Bramble, do you think we can break the top ten with this team?
Well at Wigan we know all about Onuoha, Welbeck, Mensah, Al-Muhammadi, Riveros and Gyan because they were all Bruces targets when he was our boss
I think Onuoha, Mensah and Riveros are all quality, I still need convincing about the others, Bramble as I previously stated will make a big impact and I`d be surprised if he wasn`t Player of the Season for you.
Top 10 should be the least you are aiming for after the cash that`s been spent, you`ll find that Bruce will want to spend again in January, that`s how he operates, throw money at it, I think he is out of his depth at a club with serious ambitions and if you are not careful you`ll end up with another Roy Keane on your hands and a squad full of players who aren`t good enough and you can`t sell draining the finances.
8) Predictions for Saturday?
1-0 to the Latics, a close encounter, as always and hopefully a good atmosphere.
And my interview is up and running on
Date:Thursday September 9 2010
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