Sixer’s Observerations: JP and JD two bright lights amidst the gloom

Peter Sixsmith – there’s a lot less of him these days!

Malcolm Dawson writes: a bit like Jermain Defoe, Salut! Sunderland‘s own Pete Sixsmith is much in demand. Not only is he a regular on the Fans’ Forum section of Radio Newcastle’s “Total Sport”, which despite its title deals almost exclusively with the goings on at Sid James’s Park and the Stadium of Light, he is the man The Observer approach when they want a supporter’s views on all things SAFC related.

The miserable performances of the men on the pitch means, that like Monsieur Salut at ESPN, Peter’s services will not be required in the Premier League section of the paper next season. Rumours that he has been approached to cover the goings on at Crystal Palace, Bournemouth or Watford are greatly exaggerated and even a proposed signing on fee of a year’s supply of Taylor’s pork pies will not tempt the new svelte Sixer to abandon his principles.

Fear not dear readers, he will continue to grace the pages of this very website with his personal insights into all things red and white but for now here are his unedited thoughts on a season about to end, now published in “The Observer” where their version is visible via these links (as are the thoughts of supporters of the others). 

Fans’ verdicts Man Utd to West Ham
Fans’ verdicts Arsenal to Man City

Sixer at The Observer


The season: 0/10

The season was wretched. It reminded me of Blackadder’s critique of Baldrick’s war poem: “It started badly, tailed off in the middle and the least said about the ending the better.”

We went into it hoping to build on the progress made under Sam Allardyce and most fans welcomed the appointment of David Moyes,  a pragmatic and safe choice, or so we thought. We didn’t win a game until November and only scraped together five more in the whole season, as owner, manager and players lost contact with a fan base that appears to have had quite enough of them for the foreseeable future.

David Moyes made Eeyore sound like Norman Wisdom on nitrous oxide with his downbeat assessments – saying that we were in a relegation battle two games into the season was a severe miscalculation – and has done nothing to encourage the support that the sojourn in the Championship will be short.

The only players who did themselves justice were Jordan Pickford, a potential England mainstay and Jermain Defoe, whose goals gave us a smidgeon of hope through the winter. The rest were awful, either because they were too old, not good enough or had a negative attitude from day one. Fabio Borini was a particular disappointment while Adnan Januzaj cemented his place in anyone’s worst ever Sunderland XI.

We need to sign at least seven players who will stabilise us in the Championship but I have no idea who. The manager has been working on it, so we can expect a load of former Evertonians pitching up in July.


There was nothing to smile about at all but Jermain Defoe showed the human side of football with his love for Bradley Lowery.

The picture of the two of them on Bradley’s hospital bed showed that Defoe is a fine man as well as a fine footballer.

Team of the season based on what I saw: (N.B. nobody had to play well against us we were so bloody awful)

(Observer criteria – nobody from your own club, a maximum of two from any of the other nineteen, playing in a 4-4-2 line up).

Lloris: Azpilicueta, Bailly, Luiz, Bertrand: De Bruyne, Kante, Erikson, Coutinho: Hazard, Kane.

Manager; David Moyes – let’s see what a shambles he could make of this.

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Observed: Defoe’s England glory, Sunderland’s endless gloom

His goals would have kept us up if only Moyes had got us to defend. Can it still happen?

First, heartiest congratulations to Jermain Defoe, for opening the England scoring with a trademark finish against Lithuania. In a wretched season for Sunderland, he has brought rare shafts of bright light. And recalled by Gareth Southgate after 1,465 days in the international wilderness, he ‘rolled back the years to show England what they have missed,’ according to The Guardian‘s Dominic Fifield, with little Bradley Lowery present to complete a heartwarming night. Enjoy the clip, below, while it lasts – and sadly the same can probably be said about Jermain’s sparkling Sunderland career.

Now on to the reason we probably have only 10 games left to enjoy the sight of Jermain in our colours: Pete Sixsmith is a regular in those view-from-the-stands round-ups in The Observer. They like his contributions, he – rightly – likes The Observer so it is a perfect match. But just as relegation for Sunderland will means relegation for Monsieur Salut from his little slot with ESPN, the Observer will not be calling quite so often if at all for the thoughts of a Championship team’s supporter. Here, on Pete’s calculation of what the paper will still want from him this season, is his penultimate offering ‘before we disappear into the Championship for goodness knows how long…….’

Salut! Sunderland challenges David Moyes to prove Sixer wrong. It would make our summers …

Read moreObserved: Defoe’s England glory, Sunderland’s endless gloom

Sunderland and the transfer window. Doom and gloom Observed

Sixer at The Observer: his Burnley-SAFC match report is not for the squeamish

It hardly seems appropriate after yesterday but Salut! Sunderland wishes all readers, including those who contribute to its pages, a very happy new year …

Monsieur Salut writes: surely no football team sets out to play as woefully as ours did at Burnley yesterday. It just happens. Sadly, of course, it seems to happen to Sunderland more than to most.

Supporting Sunderland has never been easy and few of us will stop doing so because of the meek and clueless surrender at Turf Moor. But where do we go from here (yes, I realise the answer is fairly obvious, but I mean if we are to give ourselves any hope of redemption)? Peter Sixsmith, who suffered with the rest of the travelling contingent in Lancashire, was asked by The Observer to set out our transfer prospects. This was his response, naturally submitted before yesterday’s calamitous events …

Read moreSunderland and the transfer window. Doom and gloom Observed

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

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
Johnny Crossan – with our usual thanks to

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.

Sixer observes: Allardyce fit for purpose as season draws to a close

Malcolm Dawson writes….Pete Sixsmith doesn’t just deliver “The Observer” sometimes he gets asked to write for it too. As is their wont The Observer follows the lead of Salut! Sunderland by doing end of season reviews and ask the fans of all clubs to sum up their Premier League campaign. You can read the whole lot by following the links Arsenal to Manchester United and Newcastle to West Ham. Meanwhile, if you couldn’t care less about anyone else, here’s what Pete told them about us.

Pete Sixsmith: 'sir, you look just like a real author!'
Pete Sixsmith: ‘sir, you look just like a real author!’
Sunderland: 7/10

Our annual production of The Great Escape was even more special this season, after a start that was worse than Villa’s. The real improvement came when Sam Allardyce had his chance to revamp the squad. Out went those who were nowhere near good enough, in came three players who changed the season. Allardyce has impressed on and off the pitch: he’s a good fit for a gritty, working class club like ours.

The stars Koné, Kirchhoff and Khazri changed the dynamic. Younès Kaboul was poor in autumn and exceptional in spring. Vito Mannone was a fine keeper and Jermain Defoe’s goals and positivity kept us up.

The flops Jeremain Lens looked a good buy in summer but turned out to be a huge disappointment. I don’t expect to be seeing him in August. Jack Rodwell epitomised the way that our game wastes talent.

Played well in patches but hasn't lived up to expectations.
Played well in patches but hasn’t lived up to expectations.
Summer targets Another forward, because Defoe will not go on for ever. Maybe Ayew from Swansea? There’s a need for a stronger squad and an end to signing players who are clearly unsuited to Premier League football. I’ll leave the detail to the scouts who unearthed Koné, Kirchhoff and Khazri.

Best and worst away fans Leicester’s away crowd was noisy and clapperless. West Ham’s was boisterous. Chelsea were charmless.

2016-17 title winners Why not us? We finished on a high and have a solid squad. Lightning can strike twice. Failing that, maybe Tottenham.

Jake: 'banned word or not, it's what we've got at last'
Jake: ‘banned word or not, it’s what we’ve got at last’

Highlights montage music The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles.

Pete Sixsmith

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Sixer Observes: half term report – must do better

Pete Sixsmith: former teacher still writing half term reports
Pete Sixsmith: former teacher still writing half term reports
Pete Sixsmith‘s opinions are much in demand. Once again “The Observer” approached him for a half term report which he supplied before yesterday’s fruitless trip to the Etihad, though I don’t suppose what went on there would have affected his responses. Now the paper is available in all good newsagents (and some not so good ones) we are free to reproduce the Q&A here. You can find the original article by following this link.

1. Are you pleased with the season so far? (Please include a mark out of 10)

As usual it’s looking like another grim slog towards the elysian fields of 16th or 17th. The Return of The Dutchman was a serious error and we are left counting the cost of that. The arrival of Sam Allardyce gives us some hope of avoiding at least one season in The English Football League. There is still much work to be done and we can but hope Sam is able to give the club the stability it needs and the (relative) success that it craves. Mark so far; 4/10

2. Who have been your stars, and your biggest underperformers/flops?

All have been impressed with Yann M’Vila, who has performed consistently well since arriving on loan from Rubin Kazan. Duncan Watmore, with his degree and his 4 year contract, gives us hope for the future. Jeremaine Lens has rarely looked like an £8m player, Ola Toivonen flatters to deceive and Jack Rodwell has been mostly missing – no change there then. Fabio Borini looks a shadow of the bright, vibrant player he was 2 years ago.

One bright spark?
One bright spark?

3. Are you happy with the manager? (Please include a mark out of 10)

He is a good fit for Sunderland – down to earth, gritty and not too attractive to look at. He can and does change his tactics, sometimes early in the game, which may suggest that he occasionally picks the wrong team. He works hard with the players and got the fans onside by beating Newcastle in his first home game. When Advocaat left, he really was the only sensible choice available for us. But he has a huge task in getting us away from the relegation zone. 6/10 so far

4. Who should he sign in January? (Please give us a few problem areas or specific names you’d like signed – a few sentences on this one!)

I have seen a lot of (big) money wasted in January windows – Alfred N’Diaye, Danny Graham, Radoslav Prica – so I have no idea. He has been spotted in France looking at central defenders and we certainly need some reinforcements in that area. A top class centre forward would be lovely, but I am sure there are another ten clubs who feel the same. As usual, we will probably borrow someone from the big boys.

5. And … If your manager was a famous cartoon character, who would he be? (eg Droopy/Top Cat/Charlie Brown/Homer Simpson/He-Man/The Grinch/Dangermouse/Eric Cartman etc etc…)

Big Sam - Fred Flinstone with a hang dog expression
Big Sam – Fred Flinstone with a hang dog expression

Put Droopy, with his jowly, hangdog expression and Fred Flintstone, with his eternal optimism and large body mass into a blender and you might come up with something akin to Sam.

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Observing the Transfer Window: Sixsmith’s Sunday Supplement

Pete Sixsmith climbs aboard the Soapbox
Pete Sixsmith climbs aboard the Soapbox

John McCormick writes:

A couple of previous posts invited comment on SAFC’s  transfer activity. Now the National Press is getting into the act.  Not content with Pete Sixsmith’s welcome to Mr. and Mrs. Borini, today’s Observer wanted to know what he thought of our dealings overall. His response was brief and to the point. Perhaps that means there’s not much to be said, but even a few words from Pete contain a lot of food for thought…..

Read moreObserving the Transfer Window: Sixsmith’s Sunday Supplement

Sunderland’s prospects Observed: Sixer says we’ll finish higher (but not much)

Jake's Ales, Lagers and Stouts
Jake’s Ales, Stouts and yellow fizz

As usual. The Observer made a pre-season raid on the thoughts of Pete Sixsmith. Sixer obliged, but before the 1-0 win against Hannover in the last of the pre-season friendlies. See if you agree with his prognosis for the season about to start (it’s at The Observer‘s own site, too, at


So far we’ve made
sensible and pragmatic signings, which is what I’d expect from a sensible and pragmatic Dutchman. It’s to be hoped that Jeremain Lens can inject some pace into what must have been the stodgiest team in the Premier League last season. We await the arrival of a creative midfield player and a 25 goal a season striker – along with a dozen or so other clubs.

Key players Lens could be the key to us not getting into the relegation quicksand, and we look to Lee Cattermole to continue to show the positive side of his game. Duncan Watmore, a pacy winger, could make a breakthrough – we really need some youngsters to come through the academy. We’ve had none since Colback and Henderson. And I was hoping we’d finally see Connor Wickham realise his huge potential this season, too. But that’s Palace’s problem now.

Weak links Opponents will take note of our sometimes ponderous midfield and the inability of our strikers to hit the net. We can be turned at the back by pace. Hmm. We could be in trouble again.

Headline generator The owner says very little, the manager has a load of experience and picks his comments carefully (so unlike Gus and Paolo), and the players seem reasonably well-behaved and a bit dull – just like our recent style of play.

Who would play your manager in a movie? The late, great Warren Clarke (Small World, Dalziel and Pascoe) is a dead ringer for The Little General. And he had form: he played a football club chairman in The Manageress in the 80s.

My prediction 14th



Jake: catch Sixer's instant seven-word verdicts throughout the season
Jake: catch Sixer’s instant seven-word verdicts throughout the season

Sixer Says: Sunderland’s season prospects Observed


Pete Sixsmith was once again called upon by The Observer for some pre-season thoughts …

Pre-season has been relatively uneventful on and off the pitch – not always a bad thing. We made three decent signings early on, have brought in Van Aanholt from Chelsea and expect a couple more before the season starts. Jordi Gomez looks a good one. He plays the style of football that Poyet likes and can score from midfield, something we are not great at. The haircut sported by Billy Jones looks dodgy, though.

Read moreSixer Says: Sunderland’s season prospects Observed

Sunderland’s prospects Observed: bring back Malone, Darius, Joe Bolton or Michael Gray


The Observer called yet again on the services of our own Pete Sixsmith for the Sunderland part of its Premier season preview. Here is Sixer’s assessment. He’s optimistic enough to suggest a top 10 finish but bemoans the lack of full-back stalwarts of the past …

Read moreSunderland’s prospects Observed: bring back Malone, Darius, Joe Bolton or Michael Gray