Martin O’Neill appears to be struggling to improve the Sunderland side left by Steve Bruce. What’s your assessment of the job O’Neill has done?
Results haven’t been the best of late, but O’Neill’s still in my eyes doing a good job. Performances seem to have improved, and he’s brought a better level of player to the club in Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher – as opposed to the scattercash approach Bruce had to signing players.
He knows we need to improve, everyone can see it, but at the moment I can’t see anyone better for the job. As said, the early season form has been disappointing, but all the games could have ended quite differently. There hasn’t been any that we’ve been completely out of.
O’Neill appears to be immune to media criticism. How long do you think it will be before a media campaign against him gathers pace?
There’s probably little media criticism because those who are watching us closely will see that he’s doing a decent job of things. Mainly results have been down to costly individual errors that you just can’t legislate for.
It will take something serious for there to be an “O’Neill Out” campaign from either the fans or the press. We need some stability. I think the board know this too and O’Neill will be here for the long-term.
What have you made of Adam Johnson?
Tough one to call. We were warned when we signed him that he was a little inconsistent and it’s showed so far this season. When he’s on form, he’s fantastic. When he’s not, you don’t even notice him. Overall so far it’s been a bit of an average run for him, but I will say that over the last 3-4 games he’s shown a steady improvement from game-to-game.
You took 4 points off us last season yet have become hate figures for United fans since the last day of the season when you celebrated THAT Aguero goal at your place. What’s that all about?
I’m sure this will go down quite well with your lot, but frankly they’ve been quite ridiculous about the whole thing. On that final day we had nothing to play for. The game was a complete dud. For that brief moment when our game had finished and you were still down, they had the temerity to chant “Championey”… so when the result came in form the Etihad, it was quite amusing, and playfully we did a Poznan in retort.
This seems to have really angered them to quite ridiculous levels, which all of us find incredibly amusing. I’m sure they’ve got bigger and better things to think about than us. The fact it wound so much of them up meant it was brought out again in our game against them the other week. Most fans of their seemed to cry like absolute babies about it. A lot of respect was lost on both sides I think due to their inability to take a joke.
What’s David Miliband’s role at your place and what do the fans make of Britain’s arch career politician?
You don’t even notice him to be honest, and until you just mentioned it I’d forgotten he was here. He works on a (very) part-time basis, although no-ones really sure what that is. It seems to be that he’s got a lot of contacts in the business arena around the world, and we can take advantage of those through partnerships and sponsorship’s Other than that, he’s barely a factor.
I hate the name of your stadium – it’s so pretentious. Have you managed to like it yet?
I don’t mind it. It is what it is. I don’t love it, I don’t hate, it’s just the name. Although I must point out, it’s not really that pretentious as you seem to think. It’s born out of the history of the area, and the former coal mine on which the Stadium is built. Hence the miners lamp outside the ground. Things like this have a lot of resonance up here.
At the end of the day, it could be better, and it could be worse. At least (for now) it’s not just some bland company name or underhand investment from our owners like say… Etihad 😉
What’s your perception of City from the outside?
I’m interested in City, and I think I kind of like them a bit. When the money came in it was interesting to watch and see how they’d gel as a team. There’s always seemingly a drama with them, but overall I’m not sure why anyone can really dislike them? You’ve not particularly got an dislike-able players or management, so I think anyone that does is merely jealous of the monetary situation.
The ones I know in person are absolutely sound and don’t feel any sense of ‘entitlement’ which is a criticism I’ve seen leveled. They all just seem to be enjoying the ride.
If you could sign one City player on a free transfer, who would it be?
Pretty easy one here – Yaya Toure. We lack any power in midfield, and we lack a box-to-box type. He’d tick every box for what we currently need in a midfielder, so why not look to one of the best in the league, if not the world.
Strangely confident about this one. Something in my water tells me that your lot might not particularly fancy it too much, and might see us as a soft touch. I’m going for another 1-0 win for us, and I wait with baited breath to find out who this years Ji will be…