After drawing 1-1 with Coventry on Saturday, Sunderland are straight back into League One action tonight where they will face Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion at the Stadium of Light.
Phil Parkinson will be looking to end a winless run of five games in all competitions as his Sunderland side sit 10th in the table, well below our target of automatic promotion.
Their opponents, Burton, have been largely inconsistent so far this season, leaving them placed 15th in the table, however they do have three games in hand on many teams.
The two sides drew 1-1 at the Stadium of Light last season, but the most memorable game was during our last Championship campaign where two late Burton goals from Darren Bent and Liam Boyce relegated Sunderland.
Ahead of the match, I spoke to Burton fan Anton Williams to discuss what the future holds for his club, Nigel Clough, and what we can expect from his team during the match.
MC: In Nigel Clough Burton possess a manager who knows the club inside out having played for and managed the club for over a decade. How important has he been to Burton’s growth as a football club and how far do you believe he can go in management?
AW: The gaffer is a club legend and we owe so much to our chairman for his success. Nigel is at home with us and the club is a perfect match, I would be more than happy for him to be our manager for another 20 years!
MC: After a brilliant start to the season, Burton have just won two of their last nine League One fixtures - what are the main reasons for your inconsistency this season?
AW: We have not been clinical enough in front of goal. If you watch us play every week we could easily be top of the league, but if you don’t score goals you wont win games.
MC: Burton currently sit 15th on the League One table, but have played the joint-least games due to international call-up’s - do you think being behind schedule can damage the momentum of the team as they are always further down the table and under pressure to catch-up?
AW: I hope not. I think January will be key and we need to get a few more bodies in. But if we can get some momentum going I believe we can break into the playoff positions. As Sir Alex used to say Xmas onwards is the time to hit form.
MC: Darren Bent retired after a short spell on loan at Burton in 2018, where he scored a goal which assisted the relegation of Sunderland - do you think he retired from football too soon?
AW: No, he struggled to maintain his fitness and he lost that killer touch. He had his time in football and I wish him all the success in his media career.
MC: I was surprised to see that your top scorer Liam Boyce did not get a move to the Championship during the summer transfer window. Sunderland were linked with the Northern Ireland international before we signed Will Grigg - do you think Burton will struggle to keep hold of him?
AW: Boyce works his socks off but he has not scored the goals he or we had hoped as of yet. If we can keep him great but equally if we can get some money for him, which will allow us maybe to strengthen in other areas, I would be happy either way.
MC: On loan Manchester United goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara has impressed this season, breaking into Mick McCarthy’s Republic of Ireland squad. Do you think its possible for Burton to make the move permanent?
AW: Not a chance, this boy is destined for better things! He is the best goalkeeper to have played in a Burton shirt in my opinion and will become a Premier League keeper in the very near future I would say.
MC: During the summer, a surprise departure from Burton was striker Marvin Sordell who decided to retire from football aged just 28 - did his decision come as a shock to the club’s fan base?
AW: No not really. Marvin had so much potential but struggled to get momentum throughout his career. I wish him all the best in the career/path he has now taken up.
MC: If there was one Burton player you think would walk into Sunderland’s starting eleven, who would it be and why?
AW: Good Question! - Stephen Quinn could walk into most sides in League One I believe. He is quality and if it wasn’t for his injuries in the past he would still be playing at the highest level. Certainly one to show passion week in week out!
MC: Who are the eleven players you expect Nigel Clough to start at the Stadium of Light?
AW: 4-1-4-1 - O’Hara, Brayford (C), Nartey, O’Toole, Wallace, Quinn, Fraser, Edwards, Akins, Broadhead, Boyce.
MC: Burton took four points from Sunderland last season, the joint most in the league alongside Portsmouth, Coventry and Fleetwood - what is your honest prediction of the final score on Tuesday night?
AW: After losing to Peterborough on Saturday we are ready to fight back, I am going with a 2-1 Brewers win.