Tim Holland speaks to Tony McHale, Stadium of Light season ticket holder about never winning again, Paolo’s transfer madness and no one liking Phil Bardsley

How do you assess Sunderland's start to the season so far?

How do you assess Sunderland’s start to the season so far?

think I said it last year and I’ll say it again this season, it’s been disappointingly poor to be honest. It started off with the most amount of losses I’ve witnessed at a start of a season; I think it was 8 losses from 9 games which was painful. I started to think we might never win again! Then came the derby win and a bit of optimism but that was just the eye of the storm! It’s been more of the same since minus the Man City win.

It’s all change at the helm at Sunderland since we last spoke. O’Neill leaves, then Paolo Di Canio now Gus Poyet. What’s your view on the manager merry-goround?

I don’t think it’s helped the club. I know everyone uses the example of Fergie at Man United but I think keeping a manager is best for the club in the long run. It maintains stability and ensures continuity going forward. A new manager always comes in and wants to build ‘his’ team and unless his given time and money then what’s the point. Just look at how many signings that Di Canio made. What’s going to happen to them?

As you say Di Canio oversaw a vast number of transfers in the summer. How are they are doing?

He made 14 signings in the summer which is transfer madness. That’s more than a team so how are they expected to gel in preseason? Some have started playing well but getting rid of Sessegnon was a strange one for me as I’ve never been that impressed by Altidore or Borini. For us they both played well in the derby but have trailed off since. Mannone has worked with Westwood to ensure we haven’t missed Mignolet quite as much as I anticipated. Giaccherini has impressed the most out of the players signed and Mavrias might be one for the future.

Do you think Poyet will be busy in the transfer market in January?

Given the investment in the summer I’m guessing Ellis Short and board probably weren’t expecting to have to cough up in January but I really think it’s needed. We haven’t scored much and are in desperate need of a decent strike.

Who should West Ham fans be wary of in the Sunderland first XI?

I couldn’t tell you right now. Fletcher and Gardner can produce the goods but it’s not been happening right now for them. It’s been good to see Bardsley score a couple this season especially as it appears no one really likes him at the club after his faux pas last season.

What’s your opinion of West Ham this season?

I think the injury to Andy Carroll has hit you hard but that’s what you get when you buy an injury-prone Geordie! I am surprised that you didn’t buy a decent back up for him given that he was injured in the summer as well. Apart from that it’s the usual Allardyce football from what I’ve seen.

Which Hammers would you have in your squad?

I like Mark Noble’s work ethic in the middle of the pitch and Ravel Morrison has looked a lively player.

What’s your prediction for the match and for both clubs this season?

I’ll go for 1-1 and I think Sunderland will end up 17th, West Ham 19th.

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