Question Time with the Roker Report

He may have a silly amount of s's in his name, but we should still watch out for him

It's match day, and that means that it's Question Time. Every week we like to give you a little bit to read to get you mentally limbered up for the game ahead, and this week is no different. This week we spoke with Simon Walsh, lead editor of SBN's Sunderland blog The Roker Report.  We spoke about tactics, lack thereof, and a certain Steve Bruce. WARNING:  Reading this may give Wanderers flashbacks to Megson. Proceed with caution.

Last season, Sunderland finished comfortably mid-table. This season finds your club languishing just above the drop zone (and just above Bolton), protected only by goal difference. Steve Bruce said "it's not been quite happening for us" after the Arsenal match, in which he neglected to start a recognised striker. How much blame should he shoulder for the club's sorry state? Is it a question of team selection, tactics, or both?

SW: I think Steve Bruce needs to shoulder the blame entirely. We've got on paper a very capable and decent squad, but there's been several areas where he just hasn't improved, and it's not acceptable. We haven't had a left winger or left full-back since he arrived in 2009, and we've been left woefully short of options in attack. There's many, many points to address and I could probably write you an essay on it, but to address the points you've labelled...

A. Team Selection - Without a doubt. Square pegs in round holes when there was ample opportunity to buy correct pegs....

B. Tactics - Certainly, we're constantly set-up to not concede and go from there, sadly there's more chance of the Marquis De Sade having clean sheets than us and we've no Plan B.

In spite of this, the club is still 7th in the Premiership for average attendance, and is only about 2,000 off the average attendance figures for the whole of last season. Has there been much backlash from the fans in response to the performances on the pitch? Should Steve be brushing up on his gardening skills?

SW: Huge backlash, and for many there's no coming back. I'm not quite at that stage, but there's one hell of a job on for him to win back the fans. He's also recently picked up a penchant for insulting us for daring to want more than a tenth place finish. The ignorance of the man defies belief.

This match has been classified as a must-win on both sides. Do you think Bruce will stray from his defensive line ups in an attempt to get some goals? Which player should the (admittedly feeble) Bolton defense be most worried about?

SW: He won't change his philosophy. He hasn't so far this season, so it will no doubt be a ridiculous 4-4-1-1 yet again. If you're looking for problem causers, it will be our only to threatening players in Nicklas Bendtner and Stephane Sessegnon. Their combination play has been a rare highlight of late.

I know this isn't a particularly tempting offer at the moment, but if you could have one currently fit Bolton player to boost your side, who would you go after?

SW: If you've got a left back, anyone, just someone left footed and breathing we'll take them! Aside from that, Kevin Davies an obvious choice given he's quite good and we're light up front, but also I do like the look of Mark Davies too, or what I saw of him last season. We could use his guile in midfield.

Finally, do you have a nice old fashioned prediction for the match?

SW: Nice old fashioned prediction is a turgid 0-0 which does nothing for either of us!

Thanks again to Simon for answering our questions, and you can find his questions and our answers right here.

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