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Early Favourites For Relegation Face Off On Sunday, But Boro Beatable

Sunderland’s latest dodgy week sees the bookies install us as joint third favourites to be relegated. Quality options for the starting line-up have started to look sparse and Middlesbrough fans have begun relishing the prospect of playing Sunderland at a low ebb. But, we should be well capable of a home result, shouldn’t we?

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As increasingly bewildered supporters have become increasingly frantic in the search for positives to cling to, bookmakers have reflected a dwindling confidence in Sunderland’s prospects by enticing observant punters with tempting odds on relegation.

As of this morning you would get roughly £25 for every tenner you bunged on Sunderland being finally ejected from the Premier League. That’s odds of 5/2 for the gambling savvy. Whilst not favourites for the drop, due to the various problems at our ‘rivals’ Hull and Burnley, the markets have reflected another dismal week on Wearside.

What concerns though, is that even Hull and Burnley have signalled some intent to spend before the window closes. Burnley have been frustrated in their efforts to strengthen all summer, but Sean Dyche has been boasting he will beat the Claret's transfer record before the window shuts. Hull supposedly offered the managers that they have attempted to appoint at least a reasonable transfer budget despite Steve Bruce storming out over just that. With a Chinese takeover nearing, their current miserable malaise is not something to be counted on as being a certain indicator for the drop. As for us, I have no idea. Not a clue. And, who wants to talk relegation fights every August anyway, Something feels 'wrong', again.

Of course, betting markets are built on many variables, but ultimately come down to an equation of what the bookie is prepared to offer you in order to snaffle your cash. But, Sunderland are considered as being of a similar likelihood to go down as Watford and Middlesbrough. The transfer window has now entered its final eleven days and observers are talking of David Moyes spending before he can buy and looking to the Championship to fill up his squad.

For some unfathomable reason, Sunderland are a club utterly incapable of generating and maintaining any sort of momentum or optimism. The goodwill from last season’s escape expired weeks ago; and the honeymoon bang from the swift appointment of David Moyes has slipped under the bed as supporters are coming to terms with growing evidence of a managerial marriage of convenience – trim costs and cling onto our Premier League status can be the only short to medium term strategy that possibly exists.

David Moyes cut a bemused, if battling, figure in yesterday’s press conference. A wry smile was inescapable as he bemoaned Lamine Kone arriving to work with a bad back. Moyes’ delivery was intentional of course; to raise an eyebrow; and he’s handled this Kone farce cleverly – because if the Ivorian is indeed off to Everton this week, a back injury is surely going to cause an issue with his medical. Cutely done certainly.

But, bemusement often gives way to bafflement; and ridiculously, the second game of the season is already starting to feel like a make or break fixture. A win and a renewed sense of optimism returns to a Sunderland crowd who, in recent years, have rejoiced in every occasional home victory as if each counted for double points; and they very often do – six pointers are bread and butter fixtures to Mackems.

A defeat, though, will feel like a twisting of the knife; but will surely ramp up the pressure on David Moyes and his employer to finish the transfer window with a semblance of a bang.

Because this past couple of days have certainly seen a changing in the mood of even the most optimistic of Sunderland fans. Summer-long grumbles are giving way to a growing tide of disenchantment. A win against Middlesbrough might just quieten those voices again and stiffen the resolve of the powers-that-be to keep a reign on the cheque book.

Certainly the current regime at the Stadium of Light is given the fairest of rides by its paying public. This nonsense would not be tolerated on Tyneside and the masses who hyperventilate in a black and white shirt would surely have turned long ago; they were on the edge of just that only a few days ago, before the Rafalution finally dawned against Reading. If Newcastle were not in the Championship, they would be laughing at us.

All we can do is turn up and support the team this Sunday and enjoy a derby day without our noisiest of neighbours. Reconnect with the Wear-Tees fixture which has been missed in recent years and enjoy the late summer sunshine at the Stadium of Light while you can. Cold times are coming?