Continuing with the fan previews, Pete Sixsmith who writes for Salut Sunderland has spoken about all things Sunderland. Follow @SalutSunderland on Twitter.

Scott: How did you rate 2012-2013 for your club?

Pete: Last season was dismal. I have watched Sunderland regularly since 1963, and the O’Neill appointment was probably the one I was most pleased about. But, he has clearly lost his powers of motivation and appeared listless and disinterested in his job. The players, with a few exceptions, appeared equally listless, so we did well to avoid the drop. Had 0’Neill not been dismissed, I would be contributing to Republik of Bolton.

Scott: Who was your best player?

Pete: Simon Mignolet was outstanding and went from a promising keeper into a very good one. A shame he left us for Liverpool. John O’Shea stood up to be counted as we slid down the league and gained the respect of this correspondent. Stephen Fletcher did well before his injury.

Scott: Which player are you expecting most important in 2013-2014?

Pete: Emannuelle Giaccherini could be a revelation; current Italian international, Scudetto winner and signed for a relatively low fee. From the bits we have seen, Cabral, signed from Basel (who did well in the Champions League, I believe) may well anchor our midfield. We look for a better season from the frustrating Adam Johnson and Stephane Sessegnon.

Scott: If you could take one United player, who would it be?

Pete: It would have to be someone who would fit in with the Di Canio approach, which rules out Nani. I do like Alexander Buttner and, seeing as we have no full backs, he will do.

Scott: Are you pleased Fergie’s retired?

Pete: Mixed feelings about Fergie. He could be the most annoying, inconsiderate and rude manager, but there was a genuine warmth about him and his impeccable working class upbringing is something we shall not see again. I can’t imagine the likes of Pardew or Rogers being Labour supporters. He will leave a big hole that Moyes will have to work hard to fill.

Scott: Where do you think your club will finish this season?

Pete: I would be delighted if we finished in the top half but suspect it will be 13th or 14th. I just want to see some decent football after the turgid fare we sat through last season.

Scott: Where do you think United will finish?

Pete: I’ll stick my neck out and predict that United will finish in the top four next season.

Scott: How do you feel about having a fascist as a manager?

Pete: I’m sure that there are many United fans who are uncomfortable having a Socialist as manager for 26 years. His politics are for him – so far at Sunderland he has kept them to himself.

Scott: We probably shouldn’t compare socialism with fascism though, eh? Hmm. Moving on. How confident are you of avoiding relegation after coming so close to going down last season?

Pete: Yes. I think he has shaken the players up and the performances at Horse Puncher Park and at home to Everton gave us an idea of the mood he can create amongst players. He has a good reputation as a coach (top of his class when he took his A badge) so I think we will be fine – but a good start is essential.