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Roker Roundtable: Sunderland take on Boro this afternoon; here’s how we think it’ll play out

The lads have a rather important game today against some club from North Yorkshire that live down the road. Can we beat them? Erm... here’s what the Roker Report lads reckon might happen.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Jake Trelease

Despite the bleak situation we find ourselves in I’m still looking forward to the match Saturday. It still feels good to get out the house on a Saturday afternoon, have a few pints with your mates and laugh about the sad, pathetic demise of Sunderland AFC.

It’s been ages since we last played well or beat Middlesbrough so we’re probably due something. However, the games this season against Boro have been excruciating. Maja was bullied out the game in the cup match and the league game was just as bleak. I can’t remember Sunderland having a chance apart from that Grabban sitter.

Maybe it’s time to be a bit unorthodox, get Maja and Asoro out wide so they can run at defenders and stick Cattermole up front. He can’t do any worse than he is now, and he could at least provide some sort of nuisance for the physical Bora defenders. Stranger things have happened. Kenwyne Jones once played central defence against Wolves under Steve Bruce. Yes, I have lost my mind.

We will start bright, concede two before half-time. 3-0 down on about 72 minutes, before Jilly Bones comes in with a consolation goal.

Sunderland 1 – 3 Middlesbrough

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Graham MacMillan-Mason

Well we aren’t going to score, are we? We’re utterly horrific and I think this is the lowest I’ve ever been when it comes to Sunderland, both in confidence and mood. Middlesbrough have dispatched us twice already this season and if anyone thinks they won’t make it three, then you’re kidding yourself.

Young Josh Maja will most likely lead the line with that donkey they borrowed us ineligible, and I can’t see him troubling Ben Gibson, whereas our defence is a shambles no matter who plays in it. It’s not going to be pretty and Middlesbrough should wipe the floor with us. We’ll be two down by half time again as well.

Sunderland 0-3 Middlesbrough

We were easily beaten by Boro in the cup in January
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Mark Carrick

So what happens now? We fought back at Bristol which, I hoped, would be a platform for a few points against Brentford and Bolton. I had hoped for four, at least; we ended with none. These were ‘must-win’ games that have now passed us by.

And, so, we entertain Boro. Again - a side that keeps on beating us. Maybe it’s because they misguidedly think it’s a derby, but playing a side from a town where Yorkshire have played county cricket doesn’t have the ring of a derby game to me.

Nevertheless, it’s the next game and becomes our latest ‘crucial’ match, if we are to get out of trouble. With Fletcher ineligible, I am hoping the return of Josh Maja and his partnership with Joel Asoro will change our fortunes in front of goal. I’d also love to see Williams given a start and go for Boro from the off.

If we got the first goal... if we were able to grab a foothold... well, who knows.

Sunderland 1-1 Middlesbrough

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Alex McCain

Yeah, I’m really not looking forward to this.

At the risk of switching on the searchlights for Captain Obvious, I’m going to point out that we have a team consisting almost entirely of talentless losers whose morale is freshly depleted following the reshuffle of the January transfer window.

It doesn’t matter how calculated, tactful or emotive Chris Coleman is as a manager, there’s absolutely no way he’s scooping the water out of this rapidly sinking frigate - and I’ve no doubt that we’ll sink even further come this afternoon.

The only positive I can think of is the fact that we’ll be without the misfiring Ashley Fletcher - but this shouldn’t be a positive, should it? We were meant to be crying out for a git big target man!

I’d love for them to prove me wrong, but I can’t see that happening in a million years.

Sunderland 1-3 Middlesbrough

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Adam Johnson

So, that team from down the road are coming to our place.

Unfortunately, our place is currently occupied by a ‘team’ with no confidence, ability or character to fight their way out of trouble. I’d usually be excited by the prospect of playing a close rival, but there is nothing to look forward to.

Coleman has tried everything at this point, different personnel, an array of formations and tactical approaches, but nothing seems be to be working. On Saturday, we’ll be without Fletcher, which will give the young lads in Asoro and Maja to deliver three points that we desperately need. Other than that, it’s going to be down to the same personnel that keep letting us down week in, week out.

We’ve got nothing to lose and we’re running out of time, let’s just go for it from the off and see where it takes us.

Sunderland 1-2 Middlesbrough

Sunderland v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Jake Hannah

We are now a whole seven points behind Sammy Ameobi’s Bolton and find ourselves propping up the second tier of English football after the embarrassment that was Tuesday night.

As Chris Coleman alluded to in his pre-Bolton presser, we simply can’t keep relying on the number of games left to pick up the odd point here and there and I’am afraid that it has become too late in the season to muster up any sort of great escape, especially when our squad is performing as it has been recently.

I’m looking at our team in comparison to that Middlesbrough’s and wondering if there’s any way we could get the ball near their goal, never mind score. This really is the most worrying time I have experienced supporting this club and can only see the misery being piled on in this non-derby.

Sunderland 0-4 Middlesbrough

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Michael Oates

I don’t think any tactical reshuffle will make too much difference come 3pm. The manager has strived to find a formula that can garner some sort of positivity and consistency on the pitch, sadly to no avail. The players at his disposal are responsible and must strain every sinew to get us out of this mess.

We have been soundly beaten on both of our visits to the Riverside this season, and I have to admit that sadly, I can’t see that little trend changing at The Stadium of Light.

Josh Maja was easily marshalled by a stern Boro defence in the FA Cup, and he will likely be leading our line. Boro’s midfield had too much guile and craft for us and we simply couldn’t handle the pace and power of Adama Traore. My heart says that we can nick something from this game, yet my head, and the wife, remind me that I’d be off my rocker to even suggest such madness.

Sunderland 0-2 Middlesbrough

Cardiff City v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images