Balotelli: A lovable sort of mental.
Time once again for Fan Focus as we prepare to take on Manchester City on New Years Day. Obviously this is a very tough test for us as City are doing pretty damn good this season. That said, is it going quite as well as planned? Well, we asked someone who knows.
Welcome to the Fan Focus hotseat for the first time Ric Turner, editor of the leading Manchester City fans site Blue Moon MCFC. You can visit them here http://www.bluemoon-mcfc.co.uk/ or follow along on Twitter here @bluemoon_mcfc.
Now you've done that and got them bookmarked etc, lets see what Ric had to say about the upcoming game, his teams fortunes and recall some other memories of SAFC...
So usually we kick these of by asking how things are going, but well... you're Manchester City, even my Mum knows you're quite good. That said, from a fans perspective and in comparison to pre-season expectation, are things going well?
Ric: Things are going extremely well thanks! I expected us to mount a serious challenge for the title this season, but to have lost just one game going into the New Year has exceeded expectations. It will be extremely close between us and United, but I think we have the stronger squad and arguably the easier fixture list in the second half of the season.
From the outside we all enjoy the antics of Mario Balotelli because well, it's not us, but do you ever as City fans wish he'd keep himself a bit quieter?
Ric: I love Balotelli. He makes a refreshing change from your typical, bland Premiership footballer. I think he's genuinely a bit mad, but he's great entertainment.
It looks like Carlos Tevez will be out of Manchester in January, but is there anyone else you want out, and who if anyone do you think City will bring in during the window?
Ric: Wayne Bridge and Nedum Onuoha are both surplus to requirements, and will be shipped out in January if a buyer can be found. I don't think we'll bring anyone in, although we could do with extra cover at centre half with Kolo Toure off to the African Nations Cup. Jan Vertonghen, of Ajax, would be ideal.
As the year comes to an end, what would be your one highlight above all others for City this year?
Ric: Whilst the 6-1 annihilation of United at Old Trafford was particularly enjoyable, I'd have to say winning the FA Cup was the highlight, having gone 35 years without a trophy.
Do you have any memories of particular games against our lot?
Ric: I vividly remember the last game of the 1990/91 season, where we beat you 3-2 to send you down. You brought thousands down - it was one of the most impressive away following we ever saw at Maine Road.
Ric: I think O'Neill will prove to be a great appointment for Sunderland. The team were underachieving with Bruce at the helm, but O'Neill has a proven track record and I think you'll finish the season strongly.
Can you give us any hope for the game? Is anyone particularly out of form which you think we could gain an edge?
Ric: No one's really playing badly at the moment. We have such strength in depth that anyone out of form will be rotated. I certainly don't think it's a formality that we'll win however. It's never easy going to the Stadium of Light, and O'Neill will have your players motivated for the game.
If we were going to stop just one Man City player, who should we really focus on, in your opinion?
Ric: David Silva is our most creative player, so if you can keep him quiet you'll have a chance.
Lastly mate, what's your prediction for how the game will go and a score...
Ric: As mentioned, I think it'll be a tough game but hopefully City will bounce back from a disappointing draw at West Brom to win 2-1.
Thanks to Ric from Blue Moon MCFC for answering our questions. Remember to give them a visit after the game too for reaction from the City side of things (click here to do so), and follow along on Twitter @BlueMoon_MCFC