Reading at last? Norwich perhaps, or Derby, Leeds, ‘Boro and Sheffield? What’s your fancy?

John McCormick:
John McCormick. Here we go again – but this time it’s different

I was away last week and didn’t log on much, on account of having a temperamental handheld device (a tip – don’t drop your computer onto a tiled surface) and iffy connections courtesy of a not-so-local bar.

But log on I did, twice.

The first time, it was to find three quarters of our readers thought our chances of immediate promotion were scuppered.

On my second log-in Colin’s poll had closed and the number had dropped to 70%. That’s still quite a damning figure.

Me, I’m not so pessimistic.

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FA Cup Third Round: five good, five bad. Everton, Notts County make both lists

Bobby Kerr and the FA Cup, May 5 1973, from Art of Football

… in which Pete Sixsmith looks back on the good, bad and exceedingly ugly FA Cup 3rd Round ties he remembers with affection or disgust …

Excitement levels among Sunderland supporters, it has to be said, have not been high over the impending FA Cup tie with Burnley.

I have my ticket due to the Cup Ticket option but am considering missing out in order to watch a tasty FA Vase tie between Shildon and Atherton Collieries. But it did get me thinking about epic and disastrous third round clashes in the past.

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Will it be Wigan or Villa (or Stoke or Newcastle) to go down with Reading and QPR?

John McCormick: better predictions than MOTD
John McCormick: better predictions than MOTD?

The headline, untouched by M Salut’s hand, is noteworthy for the absence of Sunderland from the list of contenders for the last of the bottom three slots. We must all (save for visiting supporters of the other affected clubs) take comfort from John McCormick‘s scholarly ways, sincerely hope he knows what he’s doing and be assured he is not tempting fate … it is the latest of his studies of how fluctuating goal differences may affect the outcome of the pressing Premier issue that remains to be resolved following Man Utd’s confirmation of the title

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McCormick’s Craic: down among the dead men, a lifeline for Aston Villa

John McCormick: reviewing the trends
John McCormick: reviewing the trends

So who is going down? For virtually the first time this season neutrals are mentioning Sunderland as serious contenders. Given our awful run, and the tough bunch of games to come, that is hardly surprising. John McCormick has been studying trends again and comes up with potentially good news for Aston Villa, though he still sees QPR and Reading going. At whose expense would Villa survive? Ours? Not according to whatever can be gleaned from the stats John has been reviewing. Read on but expect to be blinded by this branch of science …

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Martin’s Musings on Reading defeat: another bumpy landing the boss cannot fathom

Jake’s imagination

Monsieur Salut suffered the annoyance familiar to most football fans, stuck 39,000 feet high while the Lads were in action. Turning the phone back on at Heathrow, two and a half hours after the final whistle at Reading, I found my eyes drawn first of all to Martin O’Neill‘s post-match e-mail, the headline – ‘we’ve lost a game we shouldn’t have’ – adding to the gloom of returning to the British winter from Sri Lankan sun. I read somewhere else that we were outplayed for long periods but should still have won. Outplayed! By Reading! Can Martin’s Musings shed further light? …

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Sixer’s Sevens: Reading FC 2 SAFC 1 – Not quite managing the teamwork

Jake gives Sixer star billing
Jake gives Sixer star billing

This is where Pete Sixsmith records his instant verdict, in seven words, on each Sunderland game. When he cannot make it, a supersub steps in and his (or her) seven-word summing-up is preceded by an asterisk. Today he gives his verdict on a game where should have fancied our chances even though Reading are resurgent and we aren’t always quite together:

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Sixer’s Sevens: SAFC 3 Reading 0. What an army of doctors ordered

Jake says: 'What about Danny Rose eh? Can you be called a colossus if you're only five foot eight?'

Now we all know a club with Sunderland’s sense of history, pride and ambition should never get carried away by a three-goal victory over such lowly opposition as Reading. But a) where has all that history etc got us? and b) we so needed three points. James McClean gave us a dream start, Steven Fletcher added a classy second and we waited for the third, fourth and fifth – OK, most of that is stretching things a bit – only to see or hear the familiar back-tracking to rattle the nerves. Reading, we’re glad to report, lacked any semblance of punch and Sessegnon’s cool stoppage-time finish ensured a comfortable win – leaving injury worries about Adam Johnson, Danny Rose and Phil Bardsley. Pete Sixsmith‘s seven-word verdict gives the synopsis; come back for Sixer’s full assessment …

Seen in the Tunis Medina. Kicking myself for not buying it

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