Writer: Vital Saint
Date:Wednesday December 19 2012
It's the Black Cats next at St Mary's, so with thanks to safc123 from Vital Sunderland.
1) What are you expecting from the season?
I was expecting us to be safe from any fears of relegation and pushing for a top-half finish. I wasn`t under the illusion that we were nailed on for a top-half finish and probably chasing a European spot like some supporters, but certainly I expected up to be faring better than we currently are!
2) Any highlights from the season so far?
The 3-1 win at Fulham in November was undoubtedly my highlight of the season. Better teams than us will go to Craven Cottage and struggle to get anything; Martin Jol has a very good little unit down there and they`re tough to beat there.
The win came as a hell of a surprise so I`d have to say that was the main highlight. The Reading win a couple of Monday`s ago is up there too, simply because we scored a few goals and won a game comfortably!
There was obviously the moment of sheer elation when we equalised against the Mags, though I`m sure they would (rightly) point out, we`d been playing 10 men at home for over an hour...
3) Are you happy with your clubs business in the transfer window?
On paper, yes.
Steven Fletcher looked a good addition, if not slightly overpriced, but if £12m in exchange for 10-15 goals in the price of staying up, then it`s good business.
Danny Rose has excelled on-loan from Spurs - I`m yet to see him put in a bad display. I desperately hope that Andre Villas-Boas hasn`t been watching him too closely and that we can prise him away from them for good in January.
Adam Johnson is a good player, but it`s not happened so far and he is getting by on reputation as much as anything. We`ve all seen him well for Manchester City and England so it`s a case of waiting for that player to re-appear at the moment.
Carlos Cuellar always looked like an inevitable addition as a former Martin O`Neill signing at Villa. He`s done reasonably well, and with Wes Brown and Titus Bramble often injured, we needed somebody else.
Louis Saha has scarcely been used, and sometimes, particularly when we`re chasing a game, I`d love to see O`Neill throw caution to the wind and play with two out-and-out strikers up front - i.e. Fletcher and Saha. He`s always done well wherever he`s been and I do believe he can contribute more given a chance.
James McFadden made his debut at Manchester United last Saturday. Unsurprisingly he`s been injured since signing so it wouldn`t be fair to judge him yet.
4) Who is going to be your main dangerman when we play?
Fletcher scores most of our goals and although he is obviously reliant on the service of Seb Larsson, James McClean, Stephane Sessegnon and Johnson, none of those are playing particularly well.
I`m certainly gaining a greater appreciation of what Fletcher does to justify his £12m fee every time I see him. He works so hard doing everything a lone forward does, as well as holding the ball up to bring others into play and carrying the burden of being the line leader and talisman very well.
5) What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated :-)
The over-reliance on Fletcher and the fact that the aforementioned attacking quadruplet of Larsson-McClean-Sessegnon-Johnson is yet to really hit form individually, or as a unit.
6) Have you been surprised with how Saints have performed so far?
Yes. I had you down for relegation, and although you might still go down, you`ll do so fighting.
The recent transformation from being a side pleasing to watch but woefully exposed at the back to being a good side to watch who have started winning has been a joy. It`s always good to see teams come up and attack and Saints do that with a number of exciting young (British) players.
7) Do you have any thoughts on Nigel Adkins?
Superb manager. If he isn`t given the season it will be a farce.
8) Has anyone stood out from our recent buys?
Gaston Ramirez looks fun. He always used to be good on Football Manager and to see a newly-promoted club pay the kind of money they did, (I realise there were some 3rd party issues), you kind of hope he proves to be worth it. From Match of the Day and games on Sky, he looks like he has been.
9) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
Adam Lallana is a class act and probably the answer everybody gives! We could do with someone like him to play centrally and help put his authority on the game and be our creative fulcrum.
10) Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
Ramirez, Lallana, Rickie Lambert - any of them! Jason Puncheon and Guly Do Prado have also looked dangerous on occasion too - there`s certainly some attacking flair in that squad!
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Date:Wednesday December 19 2012
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