Opposition view – Sunderland

We catch up with Rory Fallow from Roker Report ahead of the Swans’ all-expenses-paid trip to the Stadium of Light this weekend…

It’s been a very disappointing season for Sunderland with relegation being confirmed a couple of weeks ago. Who do you hold responsible for the drop into the Championship?

Both the board and the manager need to take their share of the blame. Ellis Short’s interest in the club is at an all time low and he’s desperate to sell. Given that and the growing debt, he wasn’t able to back David Moyes, as much as the manager would have liked.

However, Moyes has played the hand he was dealt terribly. With the exception of Didier Ndong, none of his signings have made much of an impact over the course of the season. The fact that Victor Anichebe, a constantly injured freebie who signed after the window closed, has been our next best signing says everything.

Moyes also inherited the healthiest Sunderland position in years and managed to tear it apart. We’d had a great January window in 2016, meaning he only needed to keep up the momentum provided by Sam Allardyce and just sprinkle some quality in the squad. His constant negativity and baffling tactics have sucked the life out of the club though and he needs to make amends with large sections of the supporters.

The only reason Moyes is still employed is down to past managers failings, as CEO Martin Bain is adamant that we need “stability.” There’s nothing stable about Sunderland right now though.

Sunderland have been regular strugglers over the last few years but have often made a late managerial change which has helped keep you up. Are you surprised it didn’t happen this term?

In December, Martin Bain publicly declared that Moyes was going no where, whatever happened. So no one has been too surprised and it’s just led to apathy in the stands. No one is really getting angry because they know Moyes is safe, despite doing nothing to earn such a right.

It’s made all the more frustrating by seeing clubs like yourself, Hull and Leicester change managers and look all the better for it. Our squad isn’t great but a braver, more decisive, more hungry manager wouldn’t have us relegated already.

When a club is relegated certain players are likely to move on? Who do you think will be departing this summer?

Where do I begin!

Jermain Defoe has a much reported clause in his contract that he can leave for free, should the club get relegated, so Saturday will be his final game at the Stadium of Light, in a red and white jersey. In the summer, Lamine Kone tried to force a move to Everton, so we’ll definitely look to cash in on him and use the cash to rebuild. I’d also expect to see Fabio Borini, Wahbi Khazri and Jeremain Lens used to raise funds too as Borini has been awful this season, Moyes seems to hate Khazri and Lens spent this year out on loan.

I would love to see us try and hold on to Jordan Pickford though. It’s unlikely, as a lot of high profile clubs will be in for him but being a local lad, I hope he gives us a year. I don’t think a year out of the Premier League will do him much harm, given his position, but he’ll definitely be at an elite club before long. I just hope we get big money for him because, in today’s market, he’s easily worth £25m.

There’s a lot of players out of contract too, such as Jan Kirchhoff, Victor Anichebe & Seb Larsson. It’s going to be one hell of a rebuilding job to get a competitive team together for the Championship, I just hope Moyes is up to it as the evidence so far suggests he isn’t.

Are you confident that you’ll be able to challenge for promotion next season?

Not particularly. At the moment, I think we’ll perform similarly to how Aston Villa and Norwich have this season. The only thing that will change my mind is either Moyes leaving or totally changing his attitude. If he comes out fighting, starts stating that he’s actually proud to be here and makes some decent signings, then I may become a little more optimistic.

What do you make of Swansea and which players if any do you fear?

I think Paul Clement has done a great job of getting you to play to your strengths and it baffles me how Bob Bradley couldn’t see this!

The goal threat of Fernando Llorente and the creativity of Gylfi Sigurdsson are the main worries but Leon Britton was superb against us at The Liberty, so we’ll need to nullify him.

Finally how will you approach the game, predict the score and will Swansea stay up?

It’s hard to predict how we’ll approach it, given our relegation has been confirmed. Obviously, all of our play is centred around getting the ball to Defoe and Anichebe will use his physicality to disrupt the defence as much as possible. In the middle, Ndong and George Honeyman will chase down everything, with the later pushing on a little further forward.

I think you’ll win in a fairly narrow game, I’ll say 2-1. Having watched Hull last week, I definitely think you’ll stay up ahead of them!