Ahead of Sunderland’s away match at Glanford Park, @MattyCrichton spoke to Scunthorpe fan @Ironbru_net who answered our questions regarding our upcoming League One opponents.
At the start of the season we dominated yourselves in a 3-0 win - was that game influential in Nick Daws losing his job as your manager?
Not particularly, I think it became evident fairly quickly that Daws wasn't the right man for the job despite enjoying two good spells as caretaker boss. It would have been harsh if he wasn't given the chance permanently, but an accumulation of poor results and a raft of poor signings in the summer did not help his cause. A heavy home defeat to Fleetwood was the final nail in the coffin.
What has Stuart McCall changed at the club since his appointment as manager?
McCall came in and made us a bit harder to beat but after a while the honeymoon period was soon forgotten. We had a couple of months where the fans were resigned to defeat every week and despite McCall trying several partnerships at the back, we gave away some truly shocking goals. Following a disgraceful display at Bradford from a number of experienced players before Christmas, the chairman and the manager signalled their intention to bring in a number of players, which has coincided with our recent good form.
You finished in the playoffs last season losing to Rotherham in the semi-finals - what has gone wrong this season?
We lost four key players to Championship clubs in Wallace, Townsend, Holmes and Adelekun. When any side loses four of their best players it is always going to be tough particularly if the incomings are not up to the standard of the players leaving.
After losing six in a row, Scunthorpe have won their last four games moving yourselves up to 15th, has the form of top scorer Lee Novak been influential in that?
He has certainly been influential this season. His experience and leadership have been invaluable, and he has already chipped in with 10 goals. He has struggled with niggling injuries since his arrival but it's clear he has worked on his fitness this summer and is probably the fittest he has ever been. He's looking really sharp and scoring goals and fingers crossed that can continue this weekend.
If you had to pick one or two players, who in Sunderland’s team are you concerned about ahead of Saturday’s match?
Josh Maja looked sharp at the SoL, but I have always liked Lee Cattermole. I'm aware he divides opinion with your fans, but he is a great asset for any side at this level and those are the characters that you need if you are to return to the Championship at the first attempt.
You have already made several signings during the January transfer window, who has impressed you most so far?
We've signed five, but we've only really seen Tony McMahon so far. McCall has been reluctant to throw them in straight away as we had won two on the bounce prior to their arrivals. McMahon is a good addition and a great character to have around the place. He is always organising and his assist for Funso Ojo last weekend shows the quality he possesses from set plays. Byron Webster made a cameo at Walsall and looked assured and comfortable at the back, so it wouldn't be a surprise if he started this weekend. We know all about Kevin Van Veen who returns for a second spell after a year at Northampton. He is a real fans favourite and will be itching to impress if he gets the opportunity. I'm also looking forward to Adam Hammill getting an opportunity as he is a good player at this level and is the sort of exciting player the fans want to see at the club.
Sunderland nearly signed Cameron Borthwick-Jackson at the start of the season on loan from Manchester Utd - how has he performed this season for you?
He's been a bit hit and miss but over the last month or so he has been really solid. There have been some flashes of real quality including a two-goal salvo against Charlton, but we have also seen lapses in concentration and perhaps a bit of complacency creeping in to his game. He's clearly a good player but to make it any higher he needs to work on that. He's great going forward and can deliver a great ball into the box so there is also an argument for him to play further up the field - he certainly has the pace and the trickery required in his locker.
It is fair to say you are in relegation battle this season, are you confident Scunthorpe will avoid relegation to League Two?
Absolutely. We have already strengthened in the January window and we have a few players returning from injury that will help our cause. In truth, you could argue that our position may have been a little bit of a false one because of the massive injury list we have had to contend with for most of the campaign. Mid table is probably the best we can hope for this season after such a poor start but there is now a positive vibe around the place and who knows what might happen if we are able to continue our good form. We have seen Plymouth and Barnsley put runs together in recent years, with Barnsley gatecrashing the play offs and getting promoted so it can be done with a bit of momentum. That said, some fans would tell you a 20th place finish would be a mini achievement considering how bad we were at the start of the season. It really did look like a lost cause for a while.
If you had to give an honest prediction, what do you think the final score will be on Saturday?
We are on a decent little run and confidence is high, so we will be looking at the game as an opportunity to continue our form. I'm expecting a tough game, but it should certainly be entertaining and it's likely to be the best atmosphere at our spot this season. I'll go for 2-2.