Sixer observes – what the new season has in store for Sunderland AFC

Certain events mark the progress of the year. For instance you know it’s August Bank holiday when Selfridges show off their Christmas display. You know it’s Boxing Day when the TV is swamped with adverts for travel agents and in Peter Sixsmith‘s case he knows it’s only a week or two before the Premier League kicks off when The Observer asks him for his thoughts on the upcoming season. Now that their edited version has been published (you can it read here) we can release his original set of responses, written before the game against Dortmund, before the new change strip was revealed and before we dipped our toes into the transfer market. (You can probably work out their questions.)

Sixer by Jake
Sixer by Jake
OBSERVER SEASON PREVIEW 2016-17 SUNDERLAND AFC

We start the season with a new manager who has done good work with a club that is similar to ours. We have the core of the team that stood up to be counted last season. We are able to look down on our closest rivals as they go to Burton Albion, Barnsley and Brentford.

But we are playing catch up after the FA messed up our pre-season by taking an age to appoint Sam Allardyce. I think that David Moyes is a good fit for the club and I am optimistic that he can drag us into the sanctity of mid table obscurity. But it depends on bolstering a wafer thin squad, keeping influential players fit and hoping that some of our youngsters can push on this season. Tom Robson looks a prospect at left back and Joel Asoro impressed in France.

There are no new faces at the time of writing but it is clear that we need a right back, centre half, forward and wide midfield player – not much to ask there then. We are desperate to sign the outstanding Yann M’Vila on a permanent contract after his successful loan spell last year. The lack of depth and cover is worrying but we have until the end of the month to sort something out.

At the moment the first X1 looks like Mannone; Jones, Kaboul, Kone, Van Aanholt: Lens, Kirchoff, Cattermole, Khazri: Borini: Defoe.

I am looking for a 12th/13th place finish and I suspect that Leicester City will be just above that.

Johnny Crossan - with our usual thanks to www.therokerend.com
Johnny Crossan – with our usual thanks to www.therokerend.com

The best away ground to visit will be Turf Moor – a proper football town with proper fans and a very good pub ten minutes’ walk away. Stamford Bridge is awful – the complete antithesis of Burnley.

I would love to have Johnny Crossan back – he was a wonderful inside forward who could score goals from nowhere. And Dave Watson wouldn’t go amiss either.

Top 4; 1. Manchester City. 2. Liverpool. 3. Manchester United. 4. Chelsea.
Bottom 3; 20.Hull City 19.Swansea City 18.Watford
Promoted from the Championship; Derby County; Sheffield Wednesday; Newcastle United.

First Premier League Manager sacked; whoever has the misfortune to take over at Hull City.

Countdown to Wembley: Widnes, Warrington and Morris Men but no Dave Watson

John McCormick:
John McCormick:
where’s Dave Watson?

As I said in an earlier Countdown to Wembley piece, I didn’t make the 1985 or 1992 cup finals. Nor, it must be said, have I made any of the playoff games, finals or otherwise. The nearest I have ever come to them was to arrive in Sunderland the evening after the loss to Crystal Palace.

Read moreCountdown to Wembley: Widnes, Warrington and Morris Men but no Dave Watson

The Lars Word: great centre backs from King Charlie to John O’Shea

Lars Knutsen: opening the defence case

Lars Knutsen, Sunderland exile in the USA, praises the contributions of our centre-back regulars to the unbeaten start to the new season and looks back at the rock-like figures who played for SAFC in the days when there was one in the middle and he was called the centre-half …

SAFC vs MUFCJohn O’Shea in action vs old mates: image by ‘vagueonthehow’

Read moreThe Lars Word: great centre backs from King Charlie to John O’Shea

Who are you? We’re Manchester City (and Mark Hughes is still the right man)

mugshot


Nearly a year and a half ago, some of us stood at the bar of the London-bound train after watching Sunderland trounced 3-0 by Man City at the Stadium of Light. To make things worse, we were sodden after a ferocious downpour. One or two London-based City fans were saying how much affinity they felt with Sunderland. All changed next day: the Abu Dhabi takeover was announced. Martin Haworth*, a City fan in Mackem territory, reviews the progress since then …

Salut! Sunderland (posing the question before Spurs 3 City 0!): So Man City are finally asserting themselves a little. Is a top four finish now certain in your view?

No it isn’t. For my money it would be nice to be able to qualify for the Europa League without gaining entry via the Fair Play qualification – which is how we got in on the last two occasions. I think the talk of the Champions League is mainly media frenzy. There is no-one I know who talks about it. For me, as long as there is progress, then that’s fine. It seems the owners also seem to have a patient attitude, which is good. I know that the end of last season, the form wasn’t good, and people were speculating whether Mark Hughes would keep his job, and I’m glad he has. Too often the club has suffered as a result of short-term actions. To qualify would be fine by me, and we’re still in the League Cup, so a bit of silverware would be a real bonus. Any progress on the last couple of seasons would be good.

Read moreWho are you? We’re Manchester City (and Mark Hughes is still the right man)