A Salut Sunderland point of view
Pete Sixsmith - from Salut Sunderland answers some questions ahead of the Pompey v Sunderland FA cup game this weekend.
FA cup weekends always give us - fans and teams - a break from the league, but looking at your season as a whole for a minute are you happy with how it is going so far?
Had you asked me that in October, the answer would have been a resounding 'Yes, Europe here we come'. Since then it has gone very, very wrong and I am beginning to fear the annual relegation battle.
Are the club treating the fans well, or are they fleecing you?
By and large, the club look after fans in as much as any money making organisation cares for its customers. Prices are reasonable and Sunderland do have a number of cheap season ticket deals, particularly for younger fans. Sunderland fans wouldn't stand for being fleeced and the people running the club know that.
Who do you think has been Bruce's best signing so far and why?
Obviously Darren Bent. He is a genuine goalscorer and has done very well for us. Lee Cattermole is also a good signing, although his season has been interrupted by injury.
Could you have done with, and will you still get, more arrivals - if so in which areas and maybe even who?
We need a couple of dependable full backs who can tackle, mark and use the ball effectively. The current ones can't do any more than 1 of the 3 things mentioned. A winger to supply Jones and Bent would be useful as well. There is much talk of Middlesbrough winger Adam Johnson arriving; he's a decent player, potentially as good as Downing.
You had a 3rd round win over Barrow - 3-0 seems pretty 'comfortable', was that the case?
It was not a canter. Barrow did well and played some decent football, without ever really threatening an upset. They brought 8,000 fans and created a good atmosphere, so they have every reason to be proud of what they did. Barrow is a town that loves its sport and it was a pleasure to have them at the Stadium.
We snuck through by the skin of our teeth against Coventry, who would you rather be playing at the weekend - them, or us or does it not really bother you?
For most Sunderland fans a chance to beat Coventry is to be relished. In 1977, they ensured that we were relegated and they stayed up due to the appalling Jimmy Hill manipulating kick of times. We have long memories.
Is Bruce a 'put out a full strength side' or a 'rest some with the league in mind' type of guy in the cups?
Full strength side, after last weeks debacle. We need to start winning games and this one may well give us a boost.
What were your expectations, or hopes before the season kicked-off? Have they changed since? In particular what were you hopes for the FA cup when we got to round 3?
We looked upwards and for a while, our hopes were justified.. We were winning games, we looked strong all over the pitch and then it began to go wrong. Injuries and suspensions exposed the weaknesses in the squad and we slowly slid down the League. The Cup offers us some solace for what is a turning out to be a disappointing season.(again).
What about Pompey, what do you think we should expect or hope for now, both in the FA cup and in general?
I guess you will just want to get through the season without the club being liquidated. I have to say, from what I have read, the "l" word is looking increasingly likely. Grant is a good coach, but the uncertainty hanging over you will lead to relegation. You may want to take the deduction now rather than next season. Sorry.
Who is the real Sunderland danger man that Pompey need to watch?
Bent is always dangerous and if Andy Reid is on form, he can be a real threat. Cana and Cattermole may well threaten the legs of your central midfield players.
Do we have anyone that you particular fear facing?
If I were sat behind the goal, I would be fearful of Dindane and his wayward shooting. Maybe Boateng, who looks a strong midfield player or Kaboul, who is an effective defender and who may mark Bent tightly.
If you could take any Pompey player and put him in your squad who would it be and why?
We've had Tommy Smith, Younes Kaboul turned us down, so it would probably be Kevin Prince Boateng, unless you can put the wonderful Kanu in a time machine and take ten years off him. That would probably make him 30!!!
Is there anyone that you would like to send Pompey's way?
Unfair question, guys. It would be a real punishment to send any player to Fratton at the moment. They might quote the Human Rights Act!!!
Go on, who's going to win and march into round 5 and a step closer to 'FA cup glory?'
I fear a draw and a freezing cold night at the Stadium of Light in front of an 18,000 crowd, with Pompey winning on penalties after a turgid, goalless 120 minutes. Or we could win 3-0 on Saturday. Or you could win 2-0. Do you really want FA Cup glory after last time?
I hope you survive. I have a soft spot for Portsmouth, dating back to Bryan Snowdon, whose Uncle kept our local corner shop and who had cuttings of him all over the walls. I do fear for you though and I think it may well get worse before it gets better. Oh, and get rid of the bloody drums; so annoying.
I'm Pete Sixsmith, a Sunderland fan since 1962, so I have had good times and bad times following the team. I contribute to a site called SalutSunderland, run by my good friend and fellow sufferer, Colin Randall
Questions answered by Pete Sixsmith from Salut Sunderland.
Answers from Chix are available on Salut Sunderland - here.
PLAY UP POMPEY!