Middlesbrough, Villa, Fulham, Sheffield Wed, Leeds, Norwich top six. Bristol and Burton Albion – ‘nul points’

John McCormick: We're not bottom, so is it a Happy Christmas?
John McCormick. Going for a Burton

Should I be disappointed? Not with the goings-on at the offices and by the officers of Sunderland Football Club but with the response to my “who’ll be the top six” poll. In 2015 our “who’s going down” poll had over 7,000 votes cast, last year we had over 2,500.

This year it wasn’t until events at the club brought in new readers that we got past 1,000 votes. To date we have had perhaps 200-300 readers bothering to take part. What’s more, whereas in the past we have had interesting and entertaining comments from fans from other clubs this year we had had nothing. Is this what the championship’s like? Or is it the Ellis Short effect? I don’t know.

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Soapbox: second city Blues

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As Pete Sixsmith packs his knapsack for Sunderland’s visit to St Andrew’s, he reflects on past encounters between our clubs – and a rare old night in Durham after one of them …

Maybe we should have some affinity with Birmingham City. Like us, they are widely perceived as the second club out of three, living in the shadows of Aston Villa, but bigger than West Bromwich Albion.

That’s like us with the Mags and the Boro. We know that we are a better, smarter and altogether nicer club than our neighbours up the A184, while we have always looked down on those who dwell in the smog encrusted town down south on the A19.

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