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Fan Focus: Fly Me To The Moon Talk SAFC v Middlesbrough

For our Teesside opposition view we spoke to Rob from Fly Me To The Moon. Rob offers his opinion on who will cause us the most problems, how Boro will approach the game and his thoughts on the argument of this game being a "proper derby", amongst other topics.

Welcome back! A great promotion campaign and a good performance on the opening day. You must be feeling pretty positive?

Yes, feeling very positive at the moment. We were a long time away from the Premier League, seven long years, we intend to make the most of it coming back. In fact, we fully intend to throw down the anchors and stick around.

How do you see your first season back up going then? I must say, out of the newly promoted sides, I think you look the strongest.

We hope we can make a strong start as there will come a time when we give a wobble. But yes we do feel we have a strong squad and that we can emulate Bournemouth and Watford and make the transition to the top flight.

You've certainly been busy in the transfer market. Which signings do you think will be Boro's best bits of business this window?

Yes, we've made ten signings I think. But perhaps the most important could be the permanent capture of a guy that made a key difference to our promotion push as a loan player, Gaston Ramirez. He is a real flair player but also never stops working. The manager demands nothing less. I think Negredo could make a big impact with goals and look forward to former Ajax winger Viktor Fischer once he settles in. Ajax usually produce quality players and real crowd pleasers too.

People always go on about how Sunderland vs. Middlesbrough isn't a "proper derby", what's your thoughts on that? Personally I think it's a decent rivalry, especially if you're from the South Durham area, just not a particularly intense one.

Yes people do protest but I always feel they protest too much and too strongly that is not a derby. It will be a full house on Sunday. The Boro tickets went in just 18 minutes. That tells you something. It will be an intense atmosphere and the kind of event we have looked forward to. Recent games between us in the cups gave been very tight affairs and memorable.

Any memories from past visits to the Stadium of Light/Roker Park?

Oh yes many good memories from both grounds. Going back into history I recall Bosko Jankevic scoring an audacious back heel to beat Sunderland 1-0. I was in the wrong end trying very very hard not to show excitement. A local lad from Boro, Jamie Pollock, had been taunted all match long by the Roker faithful but he had the last laugh when the ball went in off his midriff. Then there was an Emerson strike from 25 yards that almost ripped the nets out of the ground in the 90s. But one time we all came together was in applause and respectful silence following the shock death of Colin Cooper's young son Finlay.

What do you think your starting line up will be and how do you see Karanka approaching the game?

We are sweating on the fitness of defenders but I could see us playing a line up similar to Saturday again, although sadly Marten de Roon will be injured. Forshaw should start instead.

I think it will be - Valdez, Nsue, Friend, Barragan, Gibson, Clayton, Forshaw, Downing, Adomah, Ramirez and Negredo up front.

I don't think we will cautious but we will try and be strong in midfield and be positive in attack but solid defensively. A tight game I think is likely but we will aim to edge it.

Out of those starting players, who would you say has the potential to cause us the most problems?

Ramirez never stops looking for ways to undo opponents. Stewy Downing will look forward to taking on the team where his career took off on loan all those years ago.

Anyone in the Sunderland side you're particularly worried about?

Obviously Defoe - he's been one of England's deadliest strikers over the last decade. Only a fool would not be concerned by his ability to score out if nothing.

Finally, a prediction please?

I'm hoping for a 2-1 win. A first Premier win in 7 years and a big statement that we are back.

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