SAFC vs Middlesbrough Guess the Score: Boro licking their lips

Think SAFC can win this one? Enter your scoreline prediction for a chance to win a mug. Think it may be a draw or away win? Enter on a strictly-for-fun/realism basis

Without needing to try too hard, we can place Sunderland vs Middlesbrough and a handful of other games between now and Saturday firmly in the context of Championship ups and downs.

If Boro had three more points than their current total of 51, they would be in the top six. The playoffs would once again seem attainable. And they would stay there provided neither Bristol City tonight (home to fifth-top Fulham) and Sheffield Utd on Friday (at Hull City) could do more than draw.

Now where would those three Boro points be most likely to come from? Surely we are not thinking of Fortress Stadium of Light where proud, committed men of the calibre of Jack Rodwell ply their trade.

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Wolves, Derby, Cardiff and Bristol leave room for only Villa and Leeds (but Middlesbrough might yet sneak in)

no slide rule needed

Pete Sixsmith has already produced a “first time” post for ‘Boro away so I’m using his usual spot to bring you an update on the progress of the clubs our pre-season poll predicted would be the top six. (Over 8,000 votes were cast. If you’re new to the series or wish to catch up you might try some of the links at the bottom of the page).

The clubs were: 

Aston Villa,
Sheff Wed,

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Middlesbrough Who are You?: ‘Newcastle’s fans are noisy, Sunderland’s are noisier’

That’s our Boro interviewee Alex Gunn in the middle

Monsieur Salut writes: just as well I have Boro-supporting relatives. Another Boro fan, exiled down south and writing about another Championship side for a living, had instantly agreed to sit in the Who are You? hot seat only to let us down a few days later (no names as he may have a good excuse). But my nephew Andy Falconer, who did a good job of answering the questions back in November, came up with a pal, Alex Gunn*, who readily stepped into the defector’s shoes … he thinks Boro will win but offers us two consolation prizes: nominating Sunderland for an imaginary ‘loudest away support’ award and saying we’ll scrape 21st place, ie survive …

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Middlesbrough vs SAFC Guess the Score. FA Cup: opportunity or hindrance when bottom?

Jake: ‘should we win for the morale or bow out to concentrate on survival?’

Now that the players have presumably recovered from having supped far too many soft drinks on New Year’s Eve to be able to compete with Barnsley next day, there is that annual (for us) dilemma: do we really want to add an FA Cup run to a challenging fixtures list?

Monsieur Salut’s heart says yes, the head isn’t so sure.

Tuesday night’s result from Reading has, after all that ludicrous hope inspired by Sunderland’s win at Forest, dumped us at the bottom of the table.

Instead of being 19th, the prize had we beaten Barnsley, we look more likely to have to make do for another season without one of our favourite Who Are You? interviewees, Bernard Ramsdale, whose beloved Wigan will replace us in the Championship unless matters improve.

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Wolves, Sheffield United, Cardiff and Bristol City keep out Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham (and don’t mention Sunderland)

The last time I reported in, Leeds were the only club from our readers’ pre-season choices to be in the top six positions. The other five – Cardiff, Wolves, Sheffield United, Bristol City and Preston, in that order – had together accumulated only 617 votes, about 7.5% of the total cast, and Wolves had had over half of them.

Four of our choices, it must be said, were queuing up on the boundary, ready to pounce on any slips from the leaders, and only one was languishing (with great languor) in the doldrums. That was just over a month ago, in which time there have been five games, potentially fifteen points, to contest.

With the arrival of another international weekend we have a chance to review the situation and see if the natural order  (as defined by our readership) has been restored in those five games.

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Sixer’s Middlesbrough Soapbox: a ‘recipe for disaster’ as Sunderland flop again

Jake: ‘oh Grabban!’

Time is running out for Sunderland. The latest defeat, coupled with wins for Burton and Bolton, exposes the club horribly at the foot of the table. Time is also running out for Pete Sixsmith‘s attendance at SAFC games – he will soon be pulling on Santa clothes to entertain the children of the North East – and he’s delighted he won’t have to sit through more of this dross.

Sixer’s Sunday took him to the Riverside stadium, more in hope than anticipation he said at Facebook as the Durham SAFCSA branch bus approached Teesside. Short as the journey may have been, those making it were not watching a derby according to Sixer (“of course not, it’s in Yorkshire”) and Bill Harris (who had the bright idea of a Salut! Sunderland poll on the issue). The readers have decided in their favour by a whopping majority* and the poll is now as closed as are Sixer’s ears to excuses for the shambles he witnessed.

Here is his damning report on another wasted afternoon …

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Sixer’s Sevens: Middlesbrough 1-0 Sunderland. Valiant defeat or deservedly bottom?

Jake: ‘it’s not always pretty’

Monsieur Salut writes: Pete Sixsmith should have been sitting next to me today, I had to cry off – wife unwell – but watched on the TV what I thought was far from a bottom-of-the-table performance. It just wasn’t quite good enough and we lost anyway. Grabban should have scored minutes before we inevitably succumbed to a smart Boro move, aided by the usual slack defending. On BBC Radio Newcastle, Benno said the timing of substitutions was again questionable: ‘where are we going to get a win from? I don’t know’. Nick Barnes: ‘Fantastic Grabban chance … [then] huffed and puffed but really didn’t cause Boro any problems second half.’ Sixer’s verdict is the one that counts and he has seen enough wretched play this season, and for the past 50, to be entitled to his even harsher judgement …

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Is Middlesbrough vs SAFC a derby? Last chance to vote

[polldaddy poll=9867201]

Managerless and bottom of the league, we need distraction. The poll provided one. Monsieur Salut brings news of the results so far …

‘I remember thinking how curious it was to see all these ancient buses full of supporters from Tow Law or Spennymoor or Crook. They seemed such far off places, somehow separate from Sunderland.’

That matchday memory of a Sunderland childhood was shared with me many years ago by Kate Adie, the top BBC reporter, in an interview for Wear Down South, the magazine of the London and SE branch of the Sunderland AFC Supporters’ Association.

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