Seven Questions We Asked a Sunderland Fan

Credit Graham Burrell

To whet your appetite and warm you up for today’s critical promotion six-pointer, we’ve asked Matthew Crichton of the Roker Report seven questions, in a brief return to one of our old features.

I’d say something like ‘enjoy’, but something tells me enjoyment and this afternoon will not go hand-in-hand for Lincoln City supporters. Still, enjoy the preview, eh?

Credit Graham Burrell

Sunderland’s recent form has been startling, what has changed?

Since his appointment back in December, Lee Johnson has completely changed Sunderland’s style of play.

A once rigid one-trick pony under Phil Parkinson, Sunderland are now flexible with formations and are also using a high press system which has proved highly effective.

Johnson’s decision to bring back Aiden McGeady to the fold was excellent, as he has been phenomenal, plus no one Wearside saw the electric goal-scoring form of Charlie Wyke coming.

Overall, Sunderland are now conceding less, whilst scoring more, most importantly the frustrating draws have turned into victories.

Saturday is your third game in a week, any signs of fatigue or injury problems derailing your run?

Sunderland have a horrendous injury list.

We are missing four central defenders in Jordan Willis, Bailey Wright, Tom Flanagan and Arby Xhemajli, plus our first-choice left-back Denver Hume is still ruled out.

Jordan Jones and Aiden O’Brien will also miss the match, but in honesty I think our depth has been displayed by this as the replacements we bring have done a job.

Luke O’Nien has surprised many by thriving out of position at centre-half, plus Max Power has also successfully covered at right-back.

How much has the culture around the club changed in light of the takeover? Has there been a renewed feeling of optimism?

100% Fans could not wait any longer for the takeover.

We were promised it for so long and the relationship between Donald/Methven and Sunderland fans was beyond repair.

Kyril Louis-Dreyfus has brought a feeling of a new era, one which has started very well given his restructuring behind the scenes with the appointment of Kristjaan Speakman as Sporting Director.

Winning the EFL Trophy, combined with our excellent run, has placed Sunderland fans on cloud nine, but the fanbase fully expects promotion this season.

From the outside looking in, you look unbeatable and outside bets maybe for the title, is the mood the same inside the camp?

I believe so, if you watched Sky’s footage of our players at Wembley, even the players injured/cup-tied/not selected were all buzzing and getting involved.

The players are more vocal on Social Media now and I think they are now seeing just how wonderful Sunderland’s fanbase can be to interact with.

I would like to think the players can see that with Lincoln and Posh both dipping in form, this is the perfect opportunity for ourselves to achieve promotion.

We have both Posh and Hull to play after yourselves, so there is absolutely no reason why Sunderland should not be aiming to win the League One title.

 Wyke and McGeady we know plenty about, but which other players have impressed in recent weeks?

Dion Sanderson is the man to watch.

He could not get a game under Parkinson, but due to the above-mentioned injuries he was given a chance by Johnson and boy has he took it.

The on-loan Wolves defender is simply a class above League One, he possesses brilliant pace, excellent one-vs-one defending, plus the way he steps in to distribute the ball is fantastic.

Whether Sunderland are promoted or not, there is no way the 21-year-old will be playing in League One next season, but I would certainly love to keep him permanently.

Is there a weak spot that causes you concern going into the last ten or so matches?

You would think it would be at centre-half given our injuries wouldn’t you?

Sunderland’s key weakness is at left-back with Hume’s long-term injury, with one of Callum McFadzean or Jake Vokins set to deputise.

McFadzean was signed as a panic cover buy as a free agent under tight wage-cap restrictions and he has been largely error prone.

Sunderland find themselves carrying him through matches and have setup before to ensure he is heavily protected.

Vokins was brought in on loan from Southampton to solve this issue, but he to has struggled massively, particularly during a 2-1 defeat to Shrewsbury.

The 21-year-old was much improved against Accrington on Wednesday, yet I still possess zero trust in him to track runners and he struggles with one-vs-one defending.

Morgan Rogers should have a field day.

What is your prediction for the game, and for the rest of the season for both sides?

Sunderland 2-0 Lincoln.

Given Lincoln’s injury crisis, I cannot see how you will leave the Stadium of Light with any points.

I strongly believe Sunderland will get promoted this season automatically, but I would not be as confident about the league.

I think away fixture with Hull will be the match that determines that perhaps if both sides continue their fantastic form.

For Lincoln, I worry that with Portsmouth, Charlton and Ipswich changing managers and likely gaining honeymoon boosts, you are dipping at the wrong time and could plummet out of the playoffs.

I think 5th/6th place could be your best on current form.