Big things for McClean in 2012? Have a read of our predictions and find out...
Last year at this time, I myself donned a cloak, dusted off the crystal ball and made some bold predictions for our club for 2011. Some of them even came true, such as Danny Welbeck going on to play for England, and Asamoah Gyan leaving us in dubious circumstances. Others however were wildly off the mark and perhaps too optimistic such as predicting we'd be in Europe, and Marcos Angeleri will get a game.
Now though, I have four other Roker Reporting buddies, and we've all made one bold prediction for Sunderland in the forthcoming calendar year...
David Boyle (@DavidBoyle1985) - Sunderland Will Win The Return Leg Of The Derby.
Bruce talked the talk leading into the derbies that he presided over, even picking out tracks to celebrate his revenge following the result that shall not be named, but was never able to walk the walk. Steve claimed to know what the game was all about coming from the area himself yet his sides always fell well woefully of the expected level of fight, desire, commitment and determination. The Mags never had it so easy. O'Neill's Sunderland will be a different prospect all together next time around and come March the SAFC bandwagon should be well and truly back up and running, ready and willing to finally give Newcastle and game on their patch.
Dan Williams (@DanInFrance) - Sunderland Will Reach The Semi-Final Of The FA Cup.
Martin O'Neill has a known pedigree for cup competitions. This is just a fact. Anyone that can get an Emile Heskey-led Leicester City to two finals doesn't really need much more evidence. With Sunderland's stuttering league form, and this shaping up to be a frankly disappointing season, expect the Black Cats to make a real push for cup glory, something that we became accustomed to not expect during the Bruce years. Although we may not have a strong enough squad to go on and win the competition itself, a win at Peterborough, followed by a generous home tie in the next round should provide us with the momentum to do well in the competition, gripping the town in the type of cup fever that we haven't seen since the nineties, and rewarding our long-suffering fans with a day out at Wembley Stadium.
Simon Walsh (@SimoWalsh) - James McClean Makes It To Euro 2012.
A slightly bold statement, but that's what this feature is about I suppose. I do recall a similar level of mocking when I said Welbeck would be an England international in 2011, I'm telling you, this is going to happen. McClean was due to play for Northern Ireland, however recently changed his allegiances, just before signing for the lads. He's clearly a lad with great confidence in his own ability, and he's fully meriting his place in the match-day squad so far. I don't want to get too carried away of course, but I think he gets onto the plane with the Republic squad as a 'wild card' type player. Might not play at all, but still, it would be quite an achievement.
Michael Graham (@Capt_Fishpaste) - No Major Striking Additions As Sessegnon Is Our Man.
With everyone wondering what striker will be brought to the club to reignite our goal threat, I believe that man is already at the club. In the next few months, I can see Martin O'Neill mold Stephane Sessegnon into a forward of real quality. We have already seen in O'Neill's brief time here a new desire from the sexy little sod to use his pace and attack the space behind a defence rather than constantly looking back into midfield, and I suspect that he has all the attributes to add that to his game and become a real goal threat himself, especially away from home.
Chris Weatherspoon (@Christoph_21) - We'll Beat Chelsea At Stamford Bridge, Again.
Call me an optimist (or just bloody stupid) but yeah, Sunderland will travel down to West London and, for the second year running, turn the former champions over. AVB's cool initialism will be no match for our very own MON, while balls in behind to a breaking Stephane Sessegnon will cause a bewildered John Terry no end of headaches. It won't be the 3-0 demolition job of last November, but a 2-1 win sealed by the head of Titus Bramble (acquitted of all charges) will see Sunderland's charge up the table gather pace. The season will end with the Black Cats in ninth position, knocked out of the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage, but with optimism and hope fully restored on Wearside once more.
And so that's our predictions for the forthcoming calendar year. Have you got some? Or indeed think we're all being ridiculous? Well come and leave a comment. It's not gonna cost you anything.