Sunderland vs Portsmouth Who are You? ‘We should be runaway favourites by now’

Peter Allen: ‘These days, Saturdays for me mean dodging Gilets Jaunes missiles on the boulevards of Paris’

Monsieur Salut writes: Peter Allen is my very good pal and partner-in-crime (if that’s the right way to describe our shared trade of journalism) in Paris. He happens to support Portsmouth and, having made it to Wembley, hoped to visit Sunderland for this Saturday’s game. Instead, he will be stuck in France, scouring the internet for an audio or visual link.

His real Who are You? was the one he did back in December but which became a casualty when this site crashed on the day we played them at Fratton Park. I refreshed it earlier this week and it remains, despite being out of date in terms of the League One promotion race, a great read. See it at this link.

And now, at much shorter length, is how he sees things as the season nears a climax …

Salut! Sunderland: is it more important to gain promotion than to have won the Checkatrade Trophy?

Peter Allen: there’s no doubt that this game is far more important than the Checkatrade trophy.

A day in the sunshine at Wembley is always great fun – especially if you win and get to wear a blue Afro wig (you know who you are, Chris) – but for top clubs such as Portsmouth and Sunderland, promotion is always the priority.

Your assessment on how things stand:

Pompey have won eight games in a row – seven of them in the League. In any normal season we’d be runaway favourites for automatic promotion by now, but this is by no means a normal season in League 1.

Other sides are showing outstanding form, and – annoyingly – no sign of relenting. The comfortable away wins are becoming particularly irritating (you know who you are, Barnsley).

Will you make it to Wearside as you once hoped. And what will be the score?

Thousands of Pompey fans will be in Sunderland, but sadly I won’t be one of them. I knew the tie would be a hugely significant one at the beginning of the season, when fantastical possibilities including attendance seemed possible, but unfortunately real life has intervened. I’ll be in Paris relying on baffling new technology to try and get a glimpse of the action.

Sunderland is an incredibly difficult place to get a result, so I’m going to be very conservative and say Pompey to win 5-4 again [sorry Peter, but we are getting a little fed up with losing 5-4 – Ed], but only one of our goals a penalty this time. I’m more interested in the Great Away Win than the actual score, to be honest.

Your guesstimate on how the final top six will look?

A top two place is still in our own hands, though. Three more straight wins and we’re there. Won’t pretend this one is going to be easy.

If my predictions come true, then I could see Pompey being Champions, with Luton runners-up, Barnsley third, and Sunderland fourth. Then you’ll win the play-offs so we can keep on playing you next season. Got to keep dreaming!

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This is how Peter described himself in December: I’m a British freelance journalist based in Paris, covering France for British newspapers and other outlets.

I’m not a natural-born Portsmuthian (childhood home countries included Morocco and Spain), but Fratton Park was the first ground where I watched a game in the 1980s. My glory years as a fan were 2003 until 2010, when I got to a huge number of matches, despite still living abroad.

Because of its strong Royal Navy links, Pompey tends to have lots of fans living in very distant countries, so I never feel very far away. To misquote Brian Clough in The Damned United: ‘Portsmouth? If you go any further South you’ll be in bloody France!’

And here’s a taste of Peter’s answerssee the interview in full here – before the first game:

Salut! Sunderland:
does the Pompey-Saints rivalry compare in intensity with Wear-Tyne, North London, Steel City (I deliberately exclude Glasgow)?

Peter: It’s heartfelt and pretty ferocious at times, although there have actually been relatively few South Coast derbies over the years. The last was more than six years ago, believe it or not (Southampton 2 Portsmouth 2, April 7 2012), but Pompey’s overwhelming historical success (Champions of England twice, two FA Cups) against Saints (a single FA Cup) has never been in doubt.

I went to see the Rolling Stones at Southampton’s tin pot stadium last summer, and was amused when Mick Jagger asked: “Any Scummers here tonight?” There were a few ironic jeers, before the Street Fighting Man added: “What about Skates?” Cue an eruption of noise from by far the best supporters in Hampshire.

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