We visit Aston Villa on Saturday in yet another huge game. Well, let’s be honest, every game is massive when you’re bottom of the table. For some insight from the other side, Damian from Villa’s best blog site The Villa Blog (@AVFCblog) kindly spent the time answer some questions on Sunderland, Paul Lambert and the match.
WAW: Sunderland haven't exactly been shy of making the headlines this season - what is your take on events on Wearside?
Damian: You're in the same boat as us. You've got an American owner [Ellis Short] now that probably knows nothing about football who is in it for what he can get out of it. In so much that the money you spend on players is probably from him, so you're paying interest on the loans and he's getting his money back, probably at a better rate than he'd get somewhere else. And when it's paid back, you'll get more, because he'll make more.
My point is; he knows nothing about football so is guided by others, who possibly don't know that much about football either. I mean, look at the sacking of Paolo Di Canio. Sure, he maybe wouldn't have made it, but you don't let someone make all those changes in the summer and then not give him time. Then replace him with another unproven manager.
WAW: Where do you think we will finish come the end of the season?
Well, as things stand, if you win a couple of games and results go for you, you're out of the bottom three and I think you've got enough in your squad to not go down, so I'll say bottom half, but not relegated.
WAW: Villa seem to have another gear to move into despite a reasonable start to the season - is the future bright under Paul Lambert?
Damian: No idea at the moment. I hope so. I'm fed up with all this chopping and changing of manager, but it's also fair to say that these days you only really become successful if you spend the money and if you don't have it in the bank, the owner has to take a gamble. Our owner [Randy Lerner] hasn't really taken a gamble, even though money has been spent. All our owner has done is lend the club what he knew it could pay back. So to answer your question probably not, sadly.
WAW: What are the expectations for you this season, is there an outside chance of European qualification?
Damian: Qualifying for the Europa League is the best we can hope for taking into consideration the above and for that to happen Lambert has to revert back to playing four defenders as defenders and he's got to get his players to stop hitting the ball long. Is there a chance, yes, but slim.
WAW: How should we expect Villa to approach this game?
Damian: No two ways about it this even though we are the home side; you will have the majority of possession, we will sit back and we'll counter. It's the only way we know how to play. Guzan will hit long down the left to Benteke and we'll lose more long balls to you than you do to us.
WAW: Christian Benteke is almost guaranteed to get back to goal scoring ways against us, him aside, who should we be most concerned about in the Villa ranks and likewise who concerns you most from Sunderland's squad?
Damian: We don't really have, at the moment, a player going out and consistently showing up against the opposition. We've got battlers and hard workers, but nobody threatening anything on a regular basis, so let's say Gabby Agbonlahor, because taking what I've written above into consideration and how we'll play, his pace could be a factor if we are to take three points. As for your lot, that Italian winger Emanuele Giaccherini looks decent, but not sure if he will feature or not.
WAW: How do you think the match will pan out and what is your prediction for the final score?
Damian: I've got to say we'll win, because you're bottom of the table, but a few years ago we played Newcastle and they were bottom or bottom three about this time in the season and we lost. I think it was at their place, but we should have won. We are at home and we need three points, otherwise we are just getting stuck. It'll pan out like this; you'll come for the three points and we'll sit back and let you do all the work and then we'll steal it from you. You'll go away wondering how you got beat.
Fancy writing for We Are Wearside? We're always looking for talented writers to guest post or join our team, if you're interested - get in touch!