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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

A Cosy Chat with Vital Sunderland

Firstly, without wishing to appear blunt. All we want to know about is Danny Rose? What do you think?

Danny Rose has been fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. I hope Andre Villas-Boas has had his favourite blinkers on since August because he'd be a tremendous addition in January! I saw him a few times when he was on-loan at Watford & he played left midfield and looked like he would never cut it as a winger. As much as I like to bash 'Arry, he obviously saw something in the lad and moving him to left-back has been inspired.

Beating Man City! That was a fluke result, right?

Ummm...in the grand scheme of things, probably not. We have a brilliant record against them at the Stadium of Light recently - three consecutive 1-0 wins and a draw prior to that. Roberto Mancini has said that he won't waste any money coming up here next year, he'll just surrender the points in advance!

In all seriousness, City look very fallible this season & although we've been far from brilliant, there is quality in our side.

Three wins out of four. Has the tide turned, or is it right opposition at the right time?

Hard to say. Four games isn't a big enough sample of results, but certainly we look a lot brighter; we're creating more chances & confidence breeds further confidence. The City win was good, but we probably won't beat another top-four side this season. Southampton are hardly the strongest side in the division and nor are Reading. With all that in mind, probably the right opposition at the right time, but hopefully the knock-on effect will be a turn in the tide. Fingers crossed!

In fairness, when I look at your squad, I see some real quality and a decent squad. For most of this season, why have you so badly under-performed?

It's a very good question, and if Martin O'Neill knew the answer I'm sure we wouldn't have done so badly up until now. I think there are a few smaller things which haven't helped us. The biggest issue is that we're reliant on Steven Fletcher for goals, he in turn is reliant on the service of Stephane Sessegnon, Seb Larsson, Adam Johnson and James McClean. Those four have failed to find their own form this season which has affected Fletcher's productivity. One or two can afford to be off-form, but all four at once is disastrous.

Though the squad is stronger in terms of depth than it was last season, it's still not the strongest. With Lee Cattermole out and Phil Bardsley having missed long chunks of the season O'Neill has put square pegs in round holes for much of the campaign. That means winger Larsson is filling in in central midfield whilst centre-back John O'Shea & central midfielder Craig Gardner have both had a go at right-back. Indeed, until Rose signed, Bardsley was constantly filling in at left-back!

On top of all that, O'Neill has his 12 or 13 players and assuming they're all fit & available, the starting XI comes from those players every week. He stated in pre-season that O'Shea and Carlos Cuellar would be his first-choice central defensive pairing. Whilst few would disagree with that assessment, how can you know in pre-season? And what sort of chance does that give other players? It's indicative of O'Neill's policy.

With the transfer window about to open, where do you need to strengthen most?

We need Rose to sign permanently for starters! An alternative to Fletcher would be good in the sense that his backup are youngster Connor Wickham, perennial crock & flash in the pan Frazier Campbell and veteran Louis Saha. We really need somebody else who can lead the line and do Fletcher's job when Fletcher is injured, suspended, knackered or short of form.

I'd also, like most Premier League fans, like to see a creative central midfielder. Cattermole, Gardner, David Vaughan and Jack Colback are all very similar: happy enough on the ball, but chiefly try to keep it simple and keep it moving. We need someone in a deeper position than Sessegnon to grab hold of the ball, dribble and drive with the ball for a few yards to make things happen. Those players don't come cheap so I don't anticipate anything happening in that department.

Prior to your recent upturn, Martin O'Neill, seemed to be losing support and even his own belief. Is everything good now?

I'll make no secret of the fact I thought he'd be off sooner or later. He said himself that he'd leave if he felt the club would be better off without him and each post-match interview was becoming more and more downbeat, more and more hopeless. Is everything good now? I'm not sure that everything is. The mood has certainly been lifted and a couple more good results would certainly put a bit of substance behind that school of thought.

Though I accept you have some good players, I don't see any of them definitely getting in a Best Spurs/Sunderland XI. What would your team be?

4-2-3-1 - Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose; Dembele, Parker; Johnson, Dempsey, Bale; Defoe.

I have to say, I feel pretty confident of three points for Spurs tomorrow. Am I simply delusional or does my belief have justification?

If we were at the Lane, I'd say it was almost a banker. At the Stadium of Light - who knows? I expect City planned to wander in, bamboozle us with their array of talent and walk away again with three comfortable points and a few goals to boot. I think, I hope, it will be tighter than you think!

So what is your prediction for the game?

An ever-optimistic 2-1 to Sunderland!




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The journalist

Writer: OxfordSpur Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday December 28 2012

Time: 5:38PM

Your Comments

A big thanks to Vital sunderland for the time and answers. I wish you every success for the season apart from when you play us
oxfordspur
I personally hate it when we go in as favourites.I would love to see us actually scoring at least 2 in the first half and then getting a few early changes to give experience. I really want Gylfi to start and see what he can offer in a full game
Big Ron
Some good points. But City have been struggling of late and no doubt took a walk in the park for granted against Sunderland. However, I expect Spurs to take the momentum in to this game and if we get an early goal then it's game over! COYS!
Critical_Spur
Good interview ox.
Windlespur
Hoping for avb to rotate a little to keep players fresh. I would like to see siggy in the team from the start - maybe even on the right to give Lennon a rest. Would also hope caulker plays against fletcher ( retire, oops, rest gallas) and depending on how sandro is energy wise, play Parker. Dempsey instead of ade too. Fresh and playing for places is what we need against a decent Sunderland side. Sessegnon a danger.
Windlespur
I'm thinking we rest Gallas with Caulker and start BAE in place of Naughton or at least have hin on the bench (BAE). My concern is Dembele. I would like to rest him but not sure Parker can be the creative type. 2 3/4 days rest is rough and they'll be some tired legs out there unless we really rotate. Maybe Townsend for Lennon and Siggy or Dempsy for Ade/Defoe. We need to win this to keep the pressure on Chelsea and Arsenal/West Brom/Everton.
jvd
My team for tomorrow would be: Lloris, Walker, Caulker, Vertonghen, Naughton; Sandro, Dembele; Lennon, Sigurdsson, Bale, Defoe
oxfordspur
interesting to note that Vital Sunderland rate Demps ahead of their own Fetcher? I for one had my doubts that Dempsey was goin to make it for us but he is beginning to show some signs. Whether he will be able to keep the likes of ISCO out of our side after hesigns (hope) is another matter?
cliffspurs
Id like to see Sigurdsson in the start line-up for this one. Id also start without Bale (I know, he was outstanding against AV) and instead put him in at HT if needed. They will without doubt prepare themselves for Bale and Id like to see them worn down before we put him on. Other subs could be Dembele for Sandro/Parker and Dempsey for Sigurdsson/Defoe. Id like Lennon to start out left with permission to go on the inside and fire at will. I think Ade and Walker could link up very well if Walker is allowed to go forward. Lloris Walker Caulker Vertonghen - Naughton Sandro - Parker Ade Sigurd - Lennon Defoe
Danespur
Sorry, the paragraphs #%# up... It was a 4-2-3-1 formation. Nevermind, we'll win anyway :-)
Danespur
@ Cliffspur, I thought Dempsey was excellent again when he came on today. Sig has also looked so much better in the last few apps, though he is perhaps still in need of a goal and a good 90 mins or two to fully find his feet and confidence
oxfordspur
Giving us warm feelings with both Sigs and Demps improving every game? Is this a sign that Jan window may not be as productive as most expec/hope it will be? Exciting times? (we're Spurs though so will prob lose to Reading!!)
cliffspurs
 

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