As we all know, the Tyne-Wear derby is more than just a question of whether SAFC can make it seven wins in a row. Premier League survival could depend on the outcome.
Steve McClaren has gone. The unprofessionalism he showed in handling the media in the death throes of his Newcastle United managerial career may have been caused by the stress of knowing the axe was poised above his head, so maybe he deserves our sympathy.
And the smart money – only money – is on Rafa Benitez, another manager with a history of strops with the press, to replace him. He may find St James’ Park “less sexy than Real” according to a Belgian site I came across, but we can hardly say he’s a useless manager.
The derby result is not, of course, the only one that matters in what seems to have become a fight for fourth bottom. There remains the case of Norwich City, whose forthcoming home games against both NUFC and SAFC would seem to hand them an advantage as they contemplate their own prospects of ending up the one club among the other three to stay up.
Then again, if both Norwich and the Mags lose on a weekend when we have no game (likely on form with the Canaries at the Etihad and Newcastle visiting Leicester, but perhaps we should be prepared for at least one shock), Sunderland’s hopes will be brighter.
Aston Villa appear to be down already. But are there Villa fans out there who believe they can still pull off a Leicester-style great escape? Can Bournemouth, Swansea of Crystal Palace even now be dragged into the scrap?
I cannot really call this poll just for fun since there is little fun involved in what has become for us an annual ritual.
But just for the heck of it (as in no prize), let us see your vote on which of the two North East Premier managers, Big Sam or – assuming the speculation is well-founded – Benitez you would rather have leading your troops in such a desperate battle.
First vote cast was Monsieur Salut’s. For Big Sam. Ha’way the Lads.