Date: 4th May 2006 at 4:49pm
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In the seventh in our intriguing series, it?s the turn of the Sunderland Vital editor to answer ten pertinent questions

1. Has your season gone as expected?

If breaking our own record for the worst team in Premiership history, adding to that becoming the worst team ever in the top flight, then yes it?s gone as expected! Seriously though, we expected a tough season, but never envisaged it being this bad. When we look at how West Ham and Wigan did this season it?s really confusing as to how we did so badly, we were much the better side than those two this time last year.

2. What changes would you like to see made?

Where do I start!? A whole new shake-up of the club is needed, although that doesn?t involve losing all our players. Some of the squad have simply under-performed because they are inexperienced, and we must retain some of them. A lot of the older players can go however.

3. Do you admire the way Mourinho has managed Chelsea?

Yes and no. He?s clearly a top manager, but I think he could do with being a bit more gracious in defeat and a lot less arrogant. I can?t think of one time when he?s actually admitted to being deservedly beaten! This attitude is not one to encourage for younger fans. Wenger and Ferguson are sore losers admittedly, that?s what being a winner is all about, but sometimes one should be man enough to admit that defeat was deserved, and that it wasn?t simply down to bad luck or the ref.

4. Select a mixed Chelsea / Sunderland XI (Ratio 6:5 or 5:6)

After Sunderland?s season, to pick any of our crop of players ahead of Chelsea?s would be a joke. And a really unfunny one at that. Arca might make the bench!

5. Who would you prefer to sign – Terry or Lampard?

While Lampard scores an unreal amount of goals from midfield, a team that is solid at the back rarely loses. Terry marshalling Sunderland?s back four this season would have added on at least an extra 15 points.

6. What would it mean to you for Sunderland to have to play in the Championship?

A couple of wins! Oh the bonus! We?ve been there before, we?ll be there again, that?s what being a Sunderland supporter is all about. We tend to do alright in England?s second tier!

7. Should Abramovich speak out more or is the silent way the best?

Taking examples such as Rupert Lowe and Wigan?s Dave Whelan, media friendly chairman tend to not come across well and seem too opinionated, therefore I think Abramovich does well to keep quiet. With such a high profile it could only result in trouble. Plus it adds to his sense of mystery! Can he actually talk?

8. Is our bad media image a result of being successful?

Yes and no. When Man Utd were unbeatable they had similar treatment. Beating everyone never results in popularity, but as I mentioned before, Mourinho?s antics, and those of some of your players, certainly does not help. Britain hates arrogant winners and loves plucky losers, Chelsea certainly aren?t the latter!

9. Facilities ? Stadium of Light or Stamford Bridge?

While we might have the worst Premiership team in history we do have something going for us, our Stadium and facilities are second to none in this country. One of the only things I wouldn?t swap with you lot. We?ll have John Terry though!

10. Biggest gripe about Chelsea?

Not really the prettiest team to watch are you!? While it?s effective, this 4-5-1 system that Mourinho has introduced seems to have taken over the game, and for that football is rarely as exciting to watch. It will annoy you saying this, but when Arsenal were at their best they were (and still are) the most attractive side to watch in the Premiership, and when Man Utd were winning every year their attacking play was phenomenal. Unfortunately, you boys seem to have a very ?samey? way of scoring and winning. But hey, this is a Sunderland supporter talking, I couldn?t care how we play if only we bloody won!

Our thanks go to Alexis at the Sunderland Vital site for taking the time to answer our questions.

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