Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 31: Sunderland

It’s back! And after quite a disruptive summer we’re just a day away from Manchester City’s opening game of the season against the former “Chosen One” David Moyes and his new Sunderland side.

In keeping with our pre-match traditions, we have spoken to a lifelong Sunderland fan, Michael Graham from Roker Report, to gain a sense of perspective from the opposition.

It’s been a summer of upheaval at Sunderland, with Allardyce leaving and Moyes coming in. Obviously I expect you’re disappointed about Sam leaving but do you believe Moyes is the right man to replace him?

I think Moyes is an excellent fit, yes. He obviously has a little bomb damage now after Man Utd and Sociedad, but Sunderland is a project that’ll excite him and he’ll benefit from a reduction in expectation levels around his club I think.

What’s the shape of the Sunderland squad like ahead of our game? Which areas still need to be strengthened for you to avoid another relegation battle?

It’s not looking great. Yann M’Vila hasn’t been replaced and Lamine Kone is being a horrible greedy arsehole trying to force a move to Everton by causing as much disruption to the club as he possibly can. Plenty of business still needs to be done in the transfer market but most lower/mid level Prem clubs will say the same.

That said, we were unbeaten in pre-season and had a very good second half to last season, so we shouldn’t put ourselves down too much.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on City, how do you think we’ll do this season and what do you make of our recruitment?

I think you have to be title favourites. City, for me, have lost some identity in recent years. They seem to have gone down the route of buying big rather than buying best – as in best for them, best for their plan.

This summer, you know Pep Guardiola will bring a clear on-pitch identity and philosophy, and seem to be buying the best available that fit into it and will thrive, with John Stones being the prime example.

I’d be surprised if it didn’t produce the title this year.

How do you think Pep will adapt to his first season in English football? City fans are ecstatic, but do you think that excitement needs tempering at all?

No, I think City fans are entitled to be excited about Pep and anyone who claims otherwise are probably just jealous. He’s a top manager, completely untarnished by failure, who’s dominated two huge clubs and plays stylish football. Who wouldn’t want that?

I think he’ll find England tougher than Spain or Germany, bit absolutely no reason to predict success to elude him.

Finally, what’s your team and predictions ahead of Saturday’s game?

We’ll probably go something like: Mannone; Jones, Kone, Kaboul, Van Aanholt; Kirchhoff, Cattermole, Rodwell; Borini, Defoe, Khazri.

We break quick these days and can see us scoring, but not winning. City 3-1.

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