We chatted with Town fan Alex Griffin about Saturday’s game against The Lads at Portman Road.
What’s your opinion of how last season ended up? Did you deserve to go down?
Last season was a season I’ll never forget in years to come. Some say we didn’t deserve to go down however some say differently; it was a season full of downs and very few ups. We definitely deserved to be relegated from the EFL Championship after seeing the recruitments that Paul Hurst made which just destroyed the heart of our club. I could’ve picked out a few results where we should have picked up 3 points where we didn’t but this is what football is all about, picking up points and getting consistent results. Strangely enough it’s a season that I really enjoyed, seeing the players actually fight for survival and have a crowd singing their hearts our for survival was something I had never experienced and we can only thank Paul Lambert for bringing the fans back together. League One is going to be a whole new adventure and I hope promotion is on the cards!
What kind of impact has relegation had on the club overall?
Relegation has had a pretty big impact, it’s surprisingly bought attendance numbers up but I think that’s down to the fact we’re playing more attacking and ‘exciting’ football. It’s strange being relegated and did take a while to sink in but now the season has kicked off it’s finally become a reality.
Have you managed to keep a nucleus of players from last season, or have some key players moved on?
We’ve managed to keep most of our players, there has been a few depart, the likes of Knudsen and Bartosz Bialkowski have departed but we’ve managed without them in my opinion.
New signings – who’s came in and how do you rate your business so far?
We’ve bought in the likes of James Norwood, Luke Garbutt, Thomas Holy which are the main ones and a few others on the side who I don’t see getting regular game time. These three stand out, as I’ve seen them in preseason and can really show the quality, they have in League One. Overall our business has been okay. I would’ve been happy with a few more additions but have to remember we have a longer transfer window than the leagues above us!
Which teams do you see as your main contenders for promotion?
Definitely Sunderland, they were up there last year and were unlucky to not be promoted so think they’ll come back fighting again. Portsmouth as well has a great side on paper. I can also see Lincoln having a great season!
In terms of your squad – which Town players do you think will be the main threat for Sunderland on Saturday, and why?
James Norwood for definite. After his 32 goal season he’s still flying in confidence and has hit prolific form. I’ve seen him in a few games and he looks extremely dangerous. Alan Judge and Emyr Huws are both exciting midfielders who can run the midfield and play great counter attacking football.
What can we expect from your lads in terms of likely style of play and tactics?
Under Lambert we have seen this new style of football which our fans have fallen in love with, it’s all passing on the floor and no ‘hoof ball’ which is great to see.
What’s the level of support like for your manager Paul Lambert following relegation?
The support for Paul Lambert is incredible. The fans love him. He’s brought the fans back together and football games are exciting to go to once again. The damage was already done and Lambert had too much of a job to try and keep us up. I wouldn’t blame Lambert!
Mick McCarthy and Martyn Waghorn are two interesting connections between the clubs in recent years. Thoughts on what they achieved at Ipswich?
Mick McCarthy did a brilliant job despite not the most exciting football. He got us into the playoffs, which was a memorable season, however things did turn toxic after a few years as fans saw him as under achieving. Martyn Waghorn was a great player - very clinical and helped us nearly get playoffs a couple of times.
Thinking about Sunderland AFC both now and historically, what thoughts come to mind? Do you know much about our squad? Any particular players you are concerned about?
I see Sunderland now as a competitive League One club. You shouldn’t really be in this league and I think sooner than you think, you’ll be back in the Championship. I remember about 5 years ago watching Sunderland in the Premier League scraping survival every year. I think you’ll get back up there one day. You’ve got a great side and one player I’m definitely scared of is Aiden McGeady!
How do you see the game going in general, and a score prediction please?
I can see it being a really tight game. With an attendance of around 25,000, and it being our first home game, the atmosphere should be unreal and lead us to victory. I’m saying 2-1 to Ipswich.
Alex can be found on social media at: