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Fan Letters: “Sunderland have ELEVEN games left - here’s how I think each one will play out!”

How will the next eleven games play out for Sunderland and, most importantly, can they do enough to survive? RR reader Andrew Cockburn gives his predictions. Got something to say? Email us: - we’ll include your message in the next edition.

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Dear Roker Report,

I guess there were one or two positives to take out of our draw at Millwall, i.e. Brian Oviedo’s rather stunning strike and Jason Steele performing capably in goal (perhaps his best performance to date for us?). However, the overriding factor was that we let another two valuable points slip from our grasp, after dropping back too deep/allowing Millwall to dominate in the second period and subsequently nick an equalizer, to thus leave us looking at a run of seven winless games, certainly relegation form. OK, so our situation at the bottom is still far from being desperate, but with time & games fast running out/in view of our current form, rather worryingly there appears to be no real sign that we can extricate ourselves from the mire. And just out of interest, heres a look at our remaining fixtures for 2017/18, and how in my view at least how they may work out.

Aston Villa (home). Villa currently sit third, aiming for automatic promotion, at the very least a place in the play-offs. They will surely fancy their chances of boosting their challenge at our expense, indeed, wouldn’t it be “in the script” somewhat if Brucey was to prove a point of sorts on his SOL “homecoming”, what after his rather acrimonious departure from Wearside back in 2011?

QPR (away). The Rangers lie sixteenth, but could still end up seriously involved in the relegation battle, in which case this looks like a potential six-pointer.

Preston North End (home). North End are in ninth spot, but with a good chance of making the play-offs, and would surely see their visit to The SOL as a chance to strengthen their promotion hopes.

Derby County (away). The fifth-placed Rams look good for a play-off spot at least, our game there must surely go down as a home banker.

Sheffield Wednesday (home). The Owls currently lie seventeenth, not completely out of the relegation picture, so like the game v QPR, this could be another possible six-pointer.

Leeds United (away). Although lying in twelfth place, Leeds still have a mathematical chance of making the play-offs, can’t really see anything more than a draw there.

Norwich City (home). Another mid-table side, but a similar scenario to the Leeds game?

Reading (away). The Royals currently sit in eighteenth spot, and in common with the games QPR & Sheffield Wednesday, looks like another six-pointer.

Burton Albion (home). Definitely a six-pointer, for the novelty of a first-ever home encounter with The Brewers will surely be overshadowed by it’s possible serious implications re the relegation battle.

Fulham (away). A similar case to the game v Villa, for The Cottagers look good for either automatic promotion/a play-off place at the very least, and as with our other games v the promotion contenders, there can surely only be one realistic outcome in this one.

Wolves (home). The Wanderers certainly appear favourites for a place in Premier League next season, in which case their final game at The SOL on 6th May could well present a possible nightmare scenario - i.e. Wolves need to win to secure automatic promotion and/or the title, while we may need a win to have a CHANCE of survival (which is what it could well boil down to). Doesn’t really bear thinking about, but how many times have we known a similar scenario previously?

So while I hate to come across as negative/paint a gloomy picture, one must still face the facts as they are, and its my estimation that five/six wins MINIMUM will be needed, and even then that may well be cutting things fine in the final analysis. But on current form, that requirement looks a bit of a long-shot, in fact its also my guess that by the end of March, we’ll have a clearer idea as to whether or not we’ll be having to get out our atlases to sort out trips to Roots Hall and the like in 2018/19. OK, so there have been some signs of resilience, fight etc. recently, but can this translate itself into much-needed victories before the season’s end? I reckon that at least two wins are needed during the remainder of this month, possibly just to even keep in touching distance with the rest of the relegation pack. But should the form of the last month or so continue, then come Easter things may well be looking pretty much academic. It looks as if it could be rather worrying times ahead.

Andrew Cockburn

Ed’s note: I can’t disagree with your synopsis there. I wrote a piece after the game on Saturday just looking at the next two games - whilst I’m still undecided on how our season will pan out, I think we’ll know for definite where our fate lies after both fixtures. If we can’t take four points (which should get us back in amongst the teams above us) then I don’t see how we manage to overcome the odds beyond that, even with nine games remaining.

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Dear Roker Report,

I was brought up with four brothers and five sisters (all Newcastle supporters) and have supported Sunderland all my life. I have followed their rise and fall. The current demise can only be laid at the feet of Lee Cattermole and the ‘old guard’ players who follow him.

The club have changed managers too many times, changed their style of play and still achieved nothing because that ‘old guard’ have always been there. They are the constant in all the failure and mess the club is in.

Get rid of that rubbish and bring in home grown young players through the acadamy. Build a team that plays for the pride of the club and shirt - not for the love of money and fame.

Michael Haley

Ed’s note: I think that whilst some of what you say may be true - that stagnant leadership in the playing squad hasn’t helped us at all - I think that there are many, many issues that have contributed towards the demise of Sunderland, not just the constant presence of a small gaggle of players.

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