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Wednesday, 20 September 2023

We spoke to Dan from Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme to get the lowdown on tonight’s opponents as Tony Mowbray makes his second Rovers return and Bradley Dack is welcomed back after his summer departure…

Sunderland and Rovers are level on points. Are you happy with your start to the season? 

I’m very happy with our start. After a couple of unlucky results against Ipswich and Preston (who have proven to be very good sides so far) we’ve gone on an impressive mini-run and look really dominant in possession. We’re playing some of the most exciting football in the Championship in my opinion! 

What are your thoughts on Tony Mowbray? What are the positive and negative aspects you’ve seen of his management in the last year? 

When Tony came in I was sceptical but he’s shown himself to be the most capable pair of hands for this young team. He’s got the experience to guide the lads when things have been tough, and he seems to genuinely love working with such a talented group of footballers. 

How sharp has Bradley Dack looked so far? We all want him to do well after losing two peak years of his career… 

He’s clearly an intelligent footballer and has actually started a fair few games already - although I can’t recall if he’s actually played 90 minutes. He missed Saturday’s game with a hamstring niggle so not sure if you’ll see him on Wednesday night or not. 

How’s the summer transfer window been for you guys?

The window was weird - we got a lot of business done early which was good, but then fans were disappointed to see the signings really dry up. On deadline day there was a point where half of our team was linked with moves away! But overall it looks like we’ve learned from last season’s weaknesses and built a stronger, deeper squad. 

Was it a surprise to see Ross Stewart leave for Southampton? Will Sunderland miss him a lot? 

It wasn’t really a surprise to see Stewart leave - it became obvious he wasn’t going to sign a contract extension. While we all love(d) the Loch Ness Drogba, no player is bigger than the club and I’m very happy with the fee. A rumoured £8 million, guaranteed to rise to £10m and potentially further to £12m! For a player with 13 Championship appearances in his career and coming off the back of two massive injuries… 

Jobe Bellingham then! Any similarities to Jude?! 

Jobe has looked unbelievable for his age. Shown such maturity for a 17-year-old and his neat turns and flicks have added another layer to our build-up play. He’s also incredibly tall and gives us a big more of a threat in the opposition box. It would be unfair to compare him to Jude but if you take away his surname, he’s still a really special talent. 

Who's been your best player so far this season?

To be honest they’ve all been excellent but Jack Clarke looks to be on top form. He looks even more direct and clinical than last season and is now one of those players who just always makes the right decision.

What are your aims this season? What position would be a successful finish?

I’d be delighted with another play-off place. The Championship on paper looked so competitive and initially I would have been happy with anywhere in the top ten, but the early signs seem to suggest we can make a real good go of it (touch wood).

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