Date: 15th March 2013 at 2:03pm
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Savvy talks to our friends at Vital Sunderland…

Do you think Hughton is capable of taking us further?
No. As much as I hate to bring our ‘friends` from up the road into this, there was a reason Mike Ashley decide to part company with Chris Hughton upon their unwelcome return to the Premier League.

Ashley, for all the uproar at the time, clearly saw that Hughton did not have what was required to drag them forward and with the benefit of hindsight, that obviously looks like a good decision.

Hughton strikes me as a very ‘safety-first` kind of manager at this level, and though he`s shown that he can build a good Championship team and a solid Premier League, they never look like they`re going to trouble the top-flight or excite their supporters.

Has your season met expectations? You started quite well.
For me personally, it`s probably only just fallen short of my expectations. I think a lot of Sunderland supporters were hoping for a top-half finish after Martin O`Neill came in last season and galvanised the side.

However, the squad is not desperately deep or strong and we are still lacking in a number of positions, so really, I`d say our position in the table is fair and to be expected – though I had hoped for slightly better, albeit by a couple of places.

Do you think you’ll stay up – and why?
Yes, but certainly not through our own ability. I think Reading and Queens Park Rangers are both gone, leaving one spot open and I hope that we have just about enough of a gap to avoid being drawn into the fight for that last spot.

I write off Reading and Queens Park Rangers because I can`t see either putting together the run of results needed to stave off relegation in spite of Rangers` back-to-back wins and the anticipated boost of a new boss for the Royals.

That said, QPR have Villa, Fulham, Eveton, Stoke, Wigan and Reading as their next five – very winnable. Newcastle, Arsenal and Liverpool follow though!

A win over you on Sunday would be a massive lift and probably be enough to take us out of the relegation battle

Danny Graham – he hasn’t hit it off yet, why’s this (famous last words)?
Personally, I think he`s a bit too similar to Steven Fletcher. They`re both quite big, strong lads, used to leading the line at their former clubs and I think whilst both are goalscorers, they are almost competing for the same role now than O`Neill has decided to play them together.

At Watford for example, Graham had a lot of joy with the quicker Marvin Sordell working off him. Fletcher was at his best this season when he had Stephane Sessegnon buzzing around him.

I feel that now that they have been partnered, they`re both struggling, and certainly the Fulham match saw Fletcher coming very deep for the ball.

What did you make of us in the first game this season?
I`ll be honest, I can`t remember anything about it other than we lost, which probably says a lot about both teams this season!

Do you think you will get a result against us this weekend?
No, I think we`re so void of confidence and ideas and Norwich are little better which is a recipe for an extremely boring game between two sides desperate not to lose.

A draw that doesn`t really help either side seems most likely. Goodness only knows why Sky choose to air this one

Are there any of our players you’d take?
If he wasn`t a former Mag I`d say Sebastian Bassong has looked good this season and we need a centre-half because Wes Brown is knackered, Titus Bramble is Titus Bramble, Matt Kilgallon is poor and Kader Mangane is unfit.

We could do with a bit of creativity in midfield too and I`d say someone like Anthony Pilkington or Bradley Johnson might provide that

Prediction?
0-0 or 1-1. Real high-quality stuff

 
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