Sunderland’s prospects Observed: Sixer says we’ll finish higher (but not much)

Jake's Ales, Lagers and Stouts
Jake’s Ales, Stouts and yellow fizz

As usual. The Observer made a pre-season raid on the thoughts of Pete Sixsmith. Sixer obliged, but before the 1-0 win against Hannover in the last of the pre-season friendlies. See if you agree with his prognosis for the season about to start (it’s at The Observer‘s own site, too, at


So far we’ve made
sensible and pragmatic signings, which is what I’d expect from a sensible and pragmatic Dutchman. It’s to be hoped that Jeremain Lens can inject some pace into what must have been the stodgiest team in the Premier League last season. We await the arrival of a creative midfield player and a 25 goal a season striker – along with a dozen or so other clubs.

Key players Lens could be the key to us not getting into the relegation quicksand, and we look to Lee Cattermole to continue to show the positive side of his game. Duncan Watmore, a pacy winger, could make a breakthrough – we really need some youngsters to come through the academy. We’ve had none since Colback and Henderson. And I was hoping we’d finally see Connor Wickham realise his huge potential this season, too. But that’s Palace’s problem now.

Weak links Opponents will take note of our sometimes ponderous midfield and the inability of our strikers to hit the net. We can be turned at the back by pace. Hmm. We could be in trouble again.

Headline generator The owner says very little, the manager has a load of experience and picks his comments carefully (so unlike Gus and Paolo), and the players seem reasonably well-behaved and a bit dull – just like our recent style of play.

Who would play your manager in a movie? The late, great Warren Clarke (Small World, Dalziel and Pascoe) is a dead ringer for The Little General. And he had form: he played a football club chairman in The Manageress in the 80s.

My prediction 14th



Jake: catch Sixer's instant seven-word verdicts throughout the season
Jake: catch Sixer’s instant seven-word verdicts throughout the season

10 thoughts on “Sunderland’s prospects Observed: Sixer says we’ll finish higher (but not much)”

  1. I see Johnson’s trial has been pushed back to February so we must continue to presume him innocent and get as much as we can out of him. Whether or not we have too many strikers, I’m not sure Wickham was the right one to let go. If Advocaat is the manager a lot of people think he is, he could surely have brightened Wickham’s ideas up.
    If it’s true that M’Vila and Fer are coming to the SoL, that at least gives us a bit of muscle. But, by and large, I’m with Jeremy, not terribly impressed. I’m tired of aiming for the middle and, as often as not, missing.

    • The club will have got more for Wickham than either Fletcher or Graham. I still think Fletcher is the most effective of the three but he’s in the last year of his contract so won’t generate the transfer fee that Wickham did. Had he gone instead (and he still might go) there’d be less to shell out on new players.

      Anyway we might still have Alvarez yet unless anyone knows any better!

  2. Midfielders and strikers aside still feel we need another left back. Yes, if for whatever reason Patrick is not available, Billy can take his place and Matthews will play right back. But somehow just not comfortable with that.
    Also, there’s the Johnson situation to consider. What if…

  3. Leroy Fer. Today’s answer to Neil Redfearn except probably nowhere near as good. If this is the mark of “progress” then there are going to be an awful lot of disappointed people.

    Of the players who have arrived this summer there’s possibly on Lens that couldn’t have been signed by Poyet.

    I’m unimpressed. Totally.

  4. I think the addition of Leroy Fer (on loan), and a possibility of a striker coming will mean we are slightly better off than last year. If Dick Advocaat stays maybe 3 years, I feel we will build a decent team that will become solid. But, Dick is a year by year addition, and at his age, quite rightly so.

    I notice, with the addition of Leroy fer, we are gathering a fair amount of Dutch players. I like that. Simply as the manager is Dutch too.

    My prediction: Tenth. Yes, Very optimistic, but, I want optimism for my team.

  5. There didnt seem to be too much drastically wrong yesterday but our usual failings are still there .Good player though he is , Defoe looks completely out of sorts in this system and I thought Wickham was going to be one of our main strikers with the other three up for sale . Youth and potential are he’s selling points while the other three are the finished article who won’t improve and who I fear will sit out their contracts here . A large transfer fee and wages saved mean nothing to me if they’re left sitting in the bank and I trust a better replacement has agreed in principle at least to sign for us .Lens looks a real find and another like him would force the whole team up a gear while Kabul and Coates looked solid . We’ll probably finish between tenth and fifteenth but anything that avoids another great escape would be welcome , our luck won’t hold out for a third season running as the same as most of our tickers !

    • Drummer – in my view getting rid of Wickham is a good bit of business and my fingers are crossed that the deal doesn’t fall through. While he shows in flashes what he can do he doesn’t do it nearly often enough. He is easily out-muscled which for someone of his build isn’t good enough. Apart from that purple patch at the end of the season before last he has been a case of unfulfilled potential. Compare his development to that of Harry Kane for example. A similar player of similar age who went out on loan a few times before getting a run out with his parent club.

      Wickham is a big money player failing to deliver. He’s not the only one of course but getting him off the wage bill will give Congerton the resources to bring in more players.

      I agree with you about Defoe but I think Fletcher is more likely to be the kind of player he needs alongside him than CW or DG. If Congerton can identify another centre forward that will come to the club then letting Fletcher go would also seriously reduce the wage bill – if there’s a club willing to meet his demands.

      We still have two domestic loans available of course but the Alvarez situation is another fly in the ointment. Until the club knows what is happening there they’ll have to assume that a) they might have to meet his transfer fee and b) his wages have to be counted towards the “financial fair play” restrictions.

      • I agree about Wickham to a degree Malcolm , in he’s defence I thought he did put a shift in on the wing last season and we’ve never really seen him in he’s preferred position for a run of games , except when Poyet had nothing else to lose . I’m not blind to he’s failings by any measure , just with Fletcher being injury prone , Graham a non scoring workhorse and Advocaats system , Wickham would be an option through the middle . Basically untill the money is spent ill reserve my judgement on the merits of the deal .

      • I think the club is at a stage where players have to go before others can come in. In the short term this might mean the squad looks thin in some areas.

        But I’m no longer excited purely by a player’s reputation any more. We’ve had plenty of names in the past who have just been a waste of time and money.

        I’ll wait and see what happens but it would be nice to think that at sometime in my lifetime we might have a nucleus of players who will form a settled side for three or four successive seasons, only needing minor tweaks and not the major overhauls we have become used to.

  6. Its a little hard to judge on a couple of pre-season friendlies, but watching the Hanover game today I did think we looked a little one-dimensional and sluggish.
    Lens looks very decent but I still think its very obvious we need a creative MF and a reliable goal scorer.
    If that CF was a powerful target man that would give us an extra dimension.
    If I was Ellis Short, I’d be hoping Giacc and Rodwell would dynamise our MF but I am not confident in either.
    The link between us and Yann M’Vila is surprising as I thought we’d be gunning for a creative MF, but he’s a technically good player. From the Wickham sale, do we have the clowt to bid for Austin? Austin would be a dream for us, but I am not sure how he’d feel about it.
    I was sad to see Lambert join W.Brom. I’d have been happy to swap Fletch and Graham for him.

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