Date: 23rd March 2010 at 8:47am
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Interview with Gaz Johnson of Vital Sunderland

1) So how is the season so far, started so well, why the drop off?

If you asked me this 7 days ago I would have been one miserable Mackem! However, due to your good FA Cup run this allowed us to have four home games in a row and we have been good at home this season. The season has been a massive learning curve for not only all the fans but the new players and gaffer. Bruce is turning things around slowly and with the latest few results we are now seeing his own team get the points we need to stay in mid table.

2) Is Steve Bruce the right manager for you and how do the fans view him?

Yes, he has only been our manager since the Summer and some fans do expect miracles overnight but we need to aim to build the club exactly the same way as Villa have done under O’neill. Bruce has had a bad half of the season due to massive injury problems and suspensions at the wrong times but he is now getting his full squad back and we look like we did in the early stages of the season.

3) Slight worries of being dragged into the relegation battle, the draw v Man City (bad luck by the way, although that equalising goal was special, you must all have been gutted) must have put that to bed? How does your run in look?

We were all very worried pre Bolton game a week ago but after the 4-0 drubbing of the Trotter’s and then a very hard earned point against City we seem to have turned a corner. We head into the Villa game after the Birmingham game and hopefully we can get another three points to finally say we are safe. Our run in has some important games against Burnley at home and Hull and Wolves away, we also have some difficult games against Liverpool and Man Utd. As long as we maintain our fantastic home record we will be alright and then look forward to the Summer.

4) Who do you think will win the title?

This is the most exciting season I have ever witnessed and I did predict Chelsea to win this when they beat us in the opening home game this season, however you can never write off Rooney and Man Utd. I will stick with my gut feeling and say Chelsea by goal difference!

5) And more pertinent to Villa, who do you think will finish 4th (and who would you LIKE to finish 4th?)

I do not really care who finishes 4th but I would like to see Villa finish their as they have been so close in the past seasons and they have a manger who has got the team their through effort rather than waving the cheque book.

6) Who in your team should Villa be wary of?

Darren Bent is the obvious one as he can score a goal out of fresh air but the main man at Sunderland at the moment is John Mensah from Ghana. He has been the reason we have turned a corner, he has made us solid, reliable and hard to beat at the back and his presence has made our clean sheet record increase. We have lost 3 games he has started.

7) Who are you wary of in our team?

Ex-geordie James Milner always seems to fire in the goals past us so it would be naive not to mention this acne faced winger.

8) If you could have one of our players who would it be and why?

Ashley Young, we are dying for a creative winger who can deliver a good cross and corner but also has an eye for goal to help out poor old Darren Bent who has scored half of our league goals this season!

9) Any opinions on Villa and Martin O’Neill?

They are the team Steve Bruce wants to make Sunderland into, he has always quoted himself saying we need to use Villa as a ‘blue-print to success’ and I agree fully. Manager O’Neill has been given time and look at the success the club is now earning. If we can give Bruce the same patience we could break the top ten and then think of silverware.

9) Go on then, lets have your prediction kind sir!

Although we have hit some form, we have also lost Kenwyne Jones and this injury is massive to our hopes of any points at Villa Park this week. I will have to be honest and say we will lose 2-0 but we have been known to go against the form book in other games so please let this be the case.

To see Mike Field’s interview on Vital Sunderland >> click here

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