Writer: Gary Johnson
Date:Friday December 17 2010
My word! Bolton in 6th position and people are raving about your style of football. Are you still pinching yourself when you look at the league table?
Pinching myself, rubbing my eyes in disbelief, asking people if it is true. You name it, I've done it! And yet we are still sixth. Whilst people thought that we wouldn't be having any problems with relegation this year, no one saw this coming. And if they say they did, then they are liars. We knew with the style of football that Coyle was using at Burnley that we would move away from the long ball and defensive tactics of Megson, and we saw the beginnings of that in the second half of last season, but every single one of them seem to be reborn.
Many fans were desperate to see Megson go, and I was one of them, how impressed are you with Coyle and his approach to your club?
The difference between St Owen Coyle and his predecessor are like and night and day. First, on the field, he has made a player like Elmander into one of the hottest properties in the league when his previous two seasons could only be descibed as tragic. But it is not only Elmander. Davies has proved that he is a great deal more than a bully of a defender, although he still has that. And when a player like Paul Robinson, who I would gladly have surgically removed from the club, is putting in rave performances.
But it is not only the tactics and quality of performance. Megson did nothing to interact with either the supporters or the town, famously saying that we didn't know what we were talking about. Understandably, this upset a fair few of us. As soon as Coyle arrived he attended fans forums, bigged us up and got involved with more than just the playing side. Indeed, Coyle has done more with the fans than any manager since we were in the Premier league.
Where do you realistically think you will end up this season? Above or below us?
Tricky on. The league is so topsy turvy, a run of 3 lost games can put you back in mid table. There has been a whisper of European football, but that has been quickly nixed by Coyle. I think in the grand scheme of things we'd still take top 10. Where we come in relation to SAFC is anybody's guess.
What do you think of Sunderland's season so far? Any player impressed you?
The day I ever thought Titus Bramble would impress me was the day I thought they'd cart me off to the funny farm, but he has come on a great deal since signing. However, the biggest player to impress me has been Gyan. I know he doesn't start every game, but he has scored some good goals and always plays with a smile on his face.
Who has been the surprise player for you this season and can you improve any part of your team?
The biggest surprise has been the form of Elmander, but for Ł8.2m, he had to come good sometime, surely! The biggest find cost us nothing. Stuart Holden has been immense in midfield and works well with Muamba. Holden covers every blade but, due to the exploits of Davies and Elmander, plus the continual talk about Cahill, has kind of snuck under the rader. After his goal against Blackburn last weekend, that may change soon.
Who would you have from Sunderland in your team?
Right now, I wouldn't want to replace any of them, but Jordan Henderson can come and warm our bench if he likes!
What are your feelings on the Stadium of Light and fans when you come up here?
A'll admit, Sunderland, either at Roker or SoL, is one of the places I haven't been to. I underatand it's a good place to watch football but is missing that certain something that made it Roker Park, just like the Reebok isn't Burden Park.
The Reebok can be a bit quiet at times, but away games are always raucous, whether they be baiting the manager (Megson) or praising him (Coyle). Of course, this time last year we were taking about 40-50 away fans. Now we are selling away allocations all the time, talk about fickle fans!
I'd like to say that we will win, but I think these are two evenly matched teams. So I'll go for 2-2, because we can score, but haven't kept a clean sheet since the opening day.
Thanks Steve for taking your time to answer our questions.
Merry Xmas from Vital Sunderland
Date:Friday December 17 2010
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