Spyin' Kop: Liverpool v Sunderland (H)

Posted by Shooter NickGavin on August 10, 2011, 07:46:30 PM


Kick Off: 3pm, Saturday 13th August

Venue: Anfield

Hands up if you are excited?  :wave

Riots and disorder permitting, the new season kicks off on Saturday, and what a difference a year makes. With optimism high amongst  a reasonably united fanbase (as much as we ever get anyway!), competitive football is back and most of us can’t wait. Our opponents for a rare opening day fixture at Anfield are Sunderland and judging by the responses I’ve had from the good folk at SMB they’re in a pretty similar mood to us. It’s amazing what a decent set of owners and chairmen can do for morale. Both sides have spent big this summer on what we all hope will bring quality AND quantity to both squads. Sunderland have at the last count made 9 summer signings covering all positions including John O’Shea and Wes Brown from Manchester United, Seb Larsson and Craig Gardner from relegated Birmingham, David Vaughan from Blackpool, teenage hotshot Connor Wickham, highly rated keeper Keiren Westwood and Korean international Dong-Won Ji. With talk of Shaun Wright-Phillips and/or Craig Bellamy there’s potentially more to come as well. With the influx of a decent mix of Premier League stalwarts and promising youngsters along with the disarray at much loved neighbours Newcastle it’s easy to see why they’re confident ahead of the new season with a real chance to establish themselves as the North East’s top club.

I had a shedload of responses, probably due to the ‘back to school’ excitement that we all get at this time of year. Apologies in advance if this is a long read but I wanted to include a decent cross section of their answers to give a fair representation of what their fans are thinking.

OK, enough rambling – here’s what the canny Mackems had to say for themselves:

How has your pre-season been shaping up so far?

Walesie: Very pleased with the business we've done, seem to have addressed the issues we had last season. The games have been as slow as you expect in pre season but it looks like we're stepping it up a level now & the fitness is just about there.

Snoodles: About how i'd expect given the number of new faces that we've brought in. A slow start while players have bedded in, but starting to come together now.

Zebediah: Never read anything into those games, we had dreadful pre-seasons before out 2 7th place finishes under Reid, and recall a good pre-season before our relegation

Bear: Apart from Bramble giving penalies away to nearly everyone we play pre-season has been fine, its all about fitness and the new lads settling in quickly at this stage

The Situation: Results wise it hasn't been great, but we've played three German sides who were weeks ahead of us in preparation. We've won our games against the weaker sides bar a defeat to Burnley. However, I'm always a firm believer that pre-season is a success if you can get through it without any serious injuries.

Your manager and chairman have been busy boys this summer. What do you make of your all your signings? Which new boy are you most looking forward to seeing play?

Cluffy: Signings have been excellent, though I think we still need something on the left. Looking forward to seeing Wickham.

BlackCat88: All of them really, but if it had to be one, it would be O'Shea, still hard to believe we signed him!

Naughtynose: Seb Larsson, hopefully regular good delivery into the box

TAFKARLFC: Wes Brown, if we can keep him injury free he looks a rock

krisread: Most looking forward to seeing if Larsson and Gardner can add goals to the Midfield which is something severly lacking in recent seasons

Steak Pie: Connor Wickham, has the tools to be excellent.

What’s your verdict on Liverpool’s new signings?

Walesie: Over priced. Downing will be a very good buy for you IMO

Andy Reid’s Love Child: Interesting project going on, British core to the side with one or two other additions, still lacking a natural goalscorer in my opinion.

CarlisleSAFC: Glad to see Liverpool going British with their signings. Yes it’s at a massive cost, but you knew that beforehand. Top four quality? Perhaps. But I think that’ll be more down to Suarez than anyone.

Freddie the Greek: All decent players, some better than others but very surprised the defence hasn't been sorted yet. I don't think the big boys will be worrying about another contender for the title just yet.

Tom92: Think Downing will be a great buy. Not too sure about Adam, think he is average at best- he will waste the ball more than he will create chances for you imo.

Do you rate Jordan Henderson? Were you sad to see him go and what kind of reception will he get if he plays?

Andy Reid’s Love Child:
Always sad to see local lads leave but he gave his everything for us and brought in £20 million to the coffers so good luck to him. I think you've paid for his potential not his ability but I hope he does well and I'm sure he'll get a fantastic reception.

Martin Smith Son of Pele: I rate Henderson highly and was sad to see him leave however the price was too good to turn down.

LRC: sad to see him go because he was a local lad and his passion when he got the goal against wigan sent shivers down my spine but the offer was far to good to turn down, great reception

Porrohman: I think the deal for us was right. I think Liverpool have got themselves a good right midfielder. I don't think he is as effective as a central midfielder. My worry is that he will be played there and will get a mixed review.

The Situation: Yes, I do. He's 20, played over 70 games in the Premier League and has an England cap to his name. I think you need to play him in the 'Dirk Kuyt' position on the right to get the best of him, but there's plenty of time for that to happen. He's a buy for the future and a good one. He'll get an excellent reception from our away fans, and 99% of people will welcome him back with open arms at our place, but there'll be the odd idiot that has been against him from day 1 that will boo.

What are your expectations for this season?

Cluffy: To improve on last season, to avoid a blip and either get into Europe or narrowly miss it.

TAFKARLC: Never have any expectations really, be nice to get a cup run and not look over our shoulders from Christmas onwards!!

Penshaw Mackem: I would be really happy for us to consolidate this season so another top 10 would be great. I don't think we are quite up to Villa/ Everton standard yet but we will be next season.
Charmless Man: Just improvement. Personally I'd be very happy with around 8th place. The more optimistic among us will be dreaming of Europe but I don't think we're there yet. Then again, if we avoid that awful mountain of injuries we had last season, who knows? I'd quite like to see a cup run for once as well.

Spartacus: Top ten again, win at least one derby and a cup run. Europe would be a dream, 7th should be the long term target, as the top six are still a class apart from the rest of league.

Your chairman seems like an all round nice bloke, club legend and decent businessman rolled into one. Has his regime been a success?

Cluffy: Undoubtably! We've gone from bottom of the Championship to a decent top flight side.

Andy Reid’s Love Child:
I think you've got to say yes, he said he had a 5 year plan to make Sunderland into a settled Premier League club. He has as I don't think anyone would expect us to be near the relegation zone again for a while.

Safcrhys: Without Niall Quinn I dread to think where this famous old club would be, somewhere at the wrong end of the Championship or maybe as low as League One is my guess. He found an Irish consortium to tide us over and when Ireland's economy began to fail and the businessmen putting their money into the club were no longer able to release any capital to help us Quinny found and delivered Irish-American billionaire Ellis Short. We're hopefully going places for the first time in 50 years.

Charmless Man: Niall Quinn is a hero round these parts. I don't think there is a bad bone in his body and he is so loved because he loves the club and the area just as much as we do. His regime saved this football club and he will always be remembered for that.

Banana Boy: Niall Quinn is the best thing that has ever happened, and that will ever happen to Sunderland. He's an absolute legend to us and every Sunderland fan will agree. There's people in Sunderland named there children after him, petitions to get a statue of him, etc etc. A great great man.

Are you happy with your current manager? What do you make of his talk for stability followed by a pretty major squad overhaul?

Cluffy: I'm happy with him yes. I don't pay any attention really to quotes taken out of context - the media can make a fool out of anyone. Bruce is a bit of a Bobby Robson when it comes to talking bollocks.

Snoodles: I'm a fan of Bruce. He's now starting to build the squad he wants. He didn't have a lot of choice when it came to the squad overhaul - we had quite a few loan players last season, and we lost Bent and Henderson. With all the money from those 2 deals, he'd have gotten slated if he DIDN'T bring some new faces in.

Jsdftm04: Bruce has done a cracking job, had a net spend of only about £6m in the last 2 summers combined and we've pushed right on squad wise in that time. 3rd highest finish for decades, doing very well imo.

Twitter: no. This season is his last chance.

Oh Bugger: Best manager we have had in my lifetime… but then there hasn’t been the greatest of competition.

Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

Cluffy: If Wickham starts well and looks like fulfilling his potential our season will go mental. Would love to see Colback carry on with his form - if we start to get a reputation for being a top place for youngsters it will do us so much good.

BlackCat88: Gyan for his goals and I think Sessegnon is going to be a huge figure for us this season.

CarlisleSAFC: Asamoah Gyan is going to have a big season. We’re derided for ‘not replacing Bent’ but if Gyan can become a top notch goal scorer then that’s done the trick. Also Stephane Sessegnon behind him in the hole will be imperative to our success. He truly is a class act and I’m amazed we have such a talented and phenomenal player at our club, amazed but very happy.

Zebediah: This season I think the United boys to bring solidity to defence, Gyan and Sess to do the bizz at the other end. I also think Seb Larsson could be important as he will be the first decent free kick/corner/crosser we have had for years.

Guiness Guzzler: Sessegnon is absolute class, and Gyan is very important to us as well.

AC Mack: Stephane Sessegnon. The skill of Malbranque but with pace and an eye for goal. I'm very excited about him this coming season.

Your worst player(s)?

BlackCat88: McCartney (your looking for a LB aren't you?!) 

CarlisleSAFC: George McCartney’s return was rather unsuccessful shall we say. Shocking player since he came back from West Ham. Kilgallon adds nothing either. And Marcos Angeleri may well as never have appeared at all, although he did call Steve ‘Exclusively shopping in Africa’ Bruce a racist, which is probably worth the £2m we paid for him.

Charmless Man: This will be controversial but I really do not rate our captain, Lee Cattermole, at all. I'd be seriously worried about the recent rumours that Liverpool are interested because he is a liability. He has no real footballing ability so has been forced into this 'enforcer' role that he doesn't really have the physicality to live up to, so he just ends up fouling people.

The Situation: Out of those that will play a part this season I'd have to say Phil Bardsley. He's fooled quite a few of our fans by flying into tackles and scoring an odd cracker, but defensively on set pieces he's a shambles and offers no balance on the left.

Sedgefield Mackem: Our goalkeeper, if it's not Gordon. That aside, Cattermole is a liability, Turner's surname is ironic and Richardson is incredibly frustrating.

Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might not know about who you think could impress this season?

Cluffy: Louis Lang, Jordan Cook, Blair Adam

TAFKARLC: Jordan Cook, young lad got a bad injury a couple of years back which hindered his development but its a big season for the lad, if he can get in I think he'll take his chance

Snoodles: Jack Colback (MF), Louise Laing (CB) and I'd like to think Billy Knott gets a few chances this season (even cups games).

Freddie the Greek: Jack Colback is better than Henderson. Who knows how much you'll be offering next June 

It’s a bit early, and there’s possibly still time for a couple more signings but what sort of line-up will be put out against us?

Seaham Towny: We lack a left winger, if we've got no-one in by then I'd expect something like Mignolet, O'Shea, Brown, Bramble, Richardson, Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, Vaughan, Sessegnon, Gyan.

Andy Reid’s Love Child: Westwood, Bardsley, Brown, Bramble, Richardson, Larsson, Cattermole, Gardner, Vaughan, Sessegnon, Gyan

bardsley bramble brown(turner) rico
larrsson gardener catts colback

Guiness Guzzler: A 4-4-1-1 formation- currently I'd expect (due to O'Sheas injury) a team of: Mignolet (GK), Brown (RB), Bramble (CB), Turner (CB), Richardson (LB), Larsson (RW), Cattermole (CM), Vaughan (CM), Colback (LM), Sessegnon (Attacking Midfield), Gyan (CF). Might be Gardner instead of Vaughan or Vaughan might be on the left ahead of Colback but that would probably be the side. When O'Shea is fit I think Brown will move to centre back ahead of one of Bramble and Turner and O'Shea will slot into the right back position

Do you have any favourite/best chant(s) and perhaps any that require an explanation?

Walesie: Oh, oh oh its colback, you know - never believe its not scholes. Google images and you'll see why

Seaham Towny: Personally I like the new Colback one. If they can get the c'est magnifique Sessegnon song off the ground to the tune of the Fools and Horses credits think that will be my new favourite

AC Mack: Call me old fashioned, but my favourites tend to be the generic Sunderland ones: red 'n white army, keep the red flag flying high, wise men say etc.

Empire: Don't worry... about a thing... we're Sunlun afc... we're gonna be alright! Some corkers prepared for the NUFC game too. 

krisread: Niall Quinns Disco pants

Recent games between us have been pretty uneventful!...Do you have a particular memory of any previous meeting between our clubs? Say something that happened to you that day or a decision you disagreed with? (All talk of beachballs, quickly taken free kicks and dubious penalties will be ignored!).

Andy Reid’s Love Child: Two words, one player, one cult hero. Stan Cummins. 1981.

Black-siamese-cat: I can remember Gary McAllister's disgraceful dive to win a penalty at SoL. Cheating Cxnt! The game finished 1-1, Don Hutchison scored for us.

CalisleSAFC: Lorik Cana’s match in the infamous beach ball match, he was an absolute man mountain and for the last twenty minutes could have been on the field on his own and would have kept a clean sheet. Shame he turned out to be a bit of a dick. Obviously Bent’s goal, shame he turned to be a colossal dick. I also thought Henderson came of age in that match, he looked like he’d been playing Premier League football for years. He’s not a dick, though.

Safcrhys: The one that sticks out for me is Michael Proctor's late winner for us against you in December 2002, that was a great moment. I was quite young at the time, about 10 if I remember and I really started to fall in love with football after that.

AC Mack: The FA Cup Final, one of the biggest days of my life, even though I couldn't go. Being only seven at the time, it's one of my earliest memories. Our win at the SOL when we were relegated sticks in the memory, Michael Proctor scoring the winner. The opening day of the season a few years back as well, when you had the likes of Gerrard, Mascherano, Alonso and Sissoko in midfield. You were terrific that day, I thought.

Oh Bugger: I remember a game against you where we tore you apart but you whinged to the ref (One of your most annoying traits) and got it abandoned. Too slippy for your precious boys

The issue of Liverpool moving to a new ground has been rumbling on for years. How did it feel for you to leave Roker Park to move into a new stadium? Would you recommend it given the chance?

Walesie: Wasn't a choice for us, Roker had been allowed to fall into such a mess moving was the only option.

Andy Reid’s Love Child: Terrible, Roker was where many of us grew to love football and Sunderland and not afraid to admit it, I had a lot of tears in my eyes. Anfield is quite decent for atmosphere, add to that it's got soul and memories, it's a special ground and a new stadia will not be the same. At all.

Snoodles: Was sad to leave Roker Park, but we couldn't extend and so had to move. While it's important to have your history, it's equally as important not to live in it - you have to progress and move on. I don't know what the plans are for your new stadium, but my own opinion is that you have to move on in order to progress - so yes - give it a go if you can.

Bear: Hated the thought of leaving Roker Park will always miss it but feel honoured to say i went there, theres some young'uns on here who never had that !! But it was time to move on same as yous and your local rivals both need to move even if its a ground share imo

Pancho: Roker Park was our past and of course it was sad to leave, but the new stadium was our future. I'd guess if LFC want to be back in the top 4 then, the modern game being what it is, at some stage you're going to need the extra income of a 60,000 seat stadium.

Have you been to Anfield before? How do you rate it compared to other grounds?

Andy Reid’s Love Child: Like I said, you get a decent atmosphere, never had much trouble in recent years but my god, the restricted view seats are shite.

TAFKARLC: Lots of times, love the ground but don't get the atmosphere that is universally praised - it might be the fact that we're not exactly a "big" game for you's but, sorry, it's very quiet a lot of the time

Steak Pie: Many times, proper football ground, up with the better ones.

Zebediah: Good for atmosphere, but the smallest seats and legroom in the world though. Unless I was unknowingly sitting in the creche end.

Pancho: Yes, a few times. I like older grounds with character. Generally a good atmosphere outside the ground, but the last couple of times I've been, disappointingly flat inside.

Where do you expect Sunderland and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League?

Steak Pie: Us 8th, you 5th.

Tired Eyes: Sunderland 7th/8th/9th, Liverpool 3rd/4th/5th

Penshaw Mackem: I am putting an outside fantasy bet on you lot doing it next season. I just have a feeling you are going to have a blinder. Although I am waiting for you to sign a new CB and Enrique before I put my money down like. We will finish a solid 9th or 10th which I would be happy with. If we have a cracker then maybe we have an outside chance of 7th or 8th, fingers crossed!

Tough question this – which team would you most like to beat this season?

Andy Reid’s Love Child: Do I really need to answer this? I don't just want us to beat them, I want us to annihilate them. Newcastle.

Snoodles: Erm....NUFC - and Everton (that 7-1 defeat still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth)

CarlisleSAFC: Newcastle. Not just because they’re our rivals, but we do owe them for last year. Also I’d love to see us rip Chelsea limb from limb at their ground again. Just because it would be fun.

Windypants: Stoke - it's terrible when you get beaten by your reserves, then NUFC, then, not so much Villa, but whoever Darren Bent is playing for.

Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

BlackCat88: Probably Suarez, always looks impressive when I've seen him play.

TAFKALC: Andy Carroll - awesome power and a real handful

Safcrhys: Carroll, just beause he is a Geordie who will obviously want to stick one up us, we struggled defending set-pieces last season and his height could cause us problems.

Spartacus: Suarez, fantastic player.

Aside from last season’s draw, recent trips to Anfield for Sunderland have been as pointless as a range of Steve Bruce beauty products. Care to predict a score?

Naughtynose: either a narrow home win for you, or at best 1-1 for us

TAFKARLC: My head says you'll win but my heart says with it being the first game of the season you just never know...

Jsdftm04: 2-0 Liverpool

Zebediah: You should win so say 3-1, but 1st games of season are notoriously unpredictable and gives me hope.

Bear: Liverpool 1-1 Sunderland

Penshaw Mackem: I have a feeling we may surprise you this year. 2-0 Sunderland! I think you will have a good season but I think you have a little way to go before you gel properly. I think we may mug you early on as we look like we are going to hit the ground running.

Pancho: Head 1-0. Heart 0-3

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