Snatching a humiliating defeat from the jaws of a humiliating goalless draw at Gillingham, supporters raging over a McDonald’s order, the manager publicly falling out with and subsequently transfer listing our best player, and an owner that keeps maintaining that everything’s fine - it’s been just another normal week on Wearside. And to compound matters, fourth-placed Blackpool arrive at the Stadium of Light on an excellent run of form.
The Lads have lost four of their last five with rumours of disillusioned dressing rooms and supporter unrest rife. So what a great time it is for Sunderland ‘Till I Die star Simon Grayson to head up the A19 to hammer the final nail into this utterly pitiful League One campaign.
On the fallout with Aiden McGeady:
“We have spoken to Aiden about January and moving on, and we feel it is fair to him to tell him now to give him the opportunity to sort something out.
“It is a big decision but not one we have taken lightly. We have given it a lot of thought and I am confident it is the right decision for the club.
On the Blackpool game:
“Tough game. They obviously have a lot of experienced League One players and I saw them play the other Sunday.
”They obviously had a very good win over Fleetwood last weekend. They are a strong team and one you would fancy to be up and around there.
”We don’t play the following week and this is a huge game for us going into the Christmas period.
”We have got to make sure the team we put out has enough threat in it to really get Blackpool on the back foot.”
After consigning last season’s player of the year to the bin of Sunderland history, Parkinson will be praying that Lynden Gooch hits the ground running as he returns from injury. The American has trained this week after a lengthy lay-off, and could be in the matchday squad on Saturday. Also pushing for a start is Charlie Wyke, who came on as a sub last weekend.
Parkinson also confirmed that Jordan Willis may miss out with a knee injury while Dylan McGeouch is out with a thigh problem. Should Willis fail to be fit in time, it may force the manager to opt for a starting line-up that isn’t hoping for a point.
View From The Opposition
It seems only fitting that at this time of festivities we are visited by one of the ghosts of Christmas past. Simon Grayson arrives with his Blackpool side eager to take revenge on a club that he feels unfairly treated by. The Yorkshireman very much pioneered the nice-fella-but-not-good-enough brand of Sunderland manager, lasting just three months before being sacked in the tunnel by Martin Bain.
Grayson returns to Wearside with the Seasiders sitting fourth in League One and are unbeaten in their last six league games. They also have striker Armand Gnanduillet among their ranks who has been in tremendous form so far this campaign. The Frenchman has bagged 13 goals and looking to add another Stadium of Light strike to his collection.
Speaking ahead of the game, Grayson told the Blackpool Gazette:
It will be nice to have another three points this time next week regardless of who we’re playing.
It’s going to be a busy period coming up, but as you can imagine, the players were buoyant in the changing room after the Fleetwood game.
We’re not going to be complacent or anything because it’s a tough run of games and we have to have players fit and available who haven’t been playing much.
Some of them played against Fleetwood in the reserve game because we’re going to need everybody over the next three weeks with so many games coming up.
Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Referee: Oliver Yates
Current position: 4th
Last season position: 10th (League One)
Last 5 results:
(L1) Gillingham (A) 0-1
(L1) Burton Albion (H) 1-2
(L1) Coventry City (H) 1-1
(FAC) Gillingham (A) 0-1
(LT) Scunthorpe United (A) 0-3
(L1) Fleetwood Town (H) 3-1
(FAC) Maidstone United (H) 3-1
(LT) Scunthorpe United (H) 1-3
(L1) Ipswich Town (A) 2-2
(L1) AFC Wimbledon (H) 2-0
The Seasiders on Wearside
12 Feb 2019 (L1) Sunderland 1-1 Blackpool (Baldwin)
28 Dec 2010 (PL) Sunderland 0-2 Blackpool
05 Mar 1988 (D3) Sunderland 2-2 Blackpool (Armstrong, Gates)
26 Dec 1977 (D2) Sunderland 2-1 Blackpool (Rowell 2)
30 Aug 1975 (D2) Sunderland 2-0 Blackpool (Towers 2)
Top goalscorers (in all competitions)
13 - Armand Gnanduillet
5 - Nathan Delfouneso
5 - Sullay Kaikai
2 - Jay Spearing
2 - Matthew Virtue Thick
Last Time We Met
Let’s be honest, no-one can remember anything about this game, can they? Cast your mind back to February when Sunderland were in the midst of the 1-1-a-thon, a run which saw them record six score draws in eight games.
Jack Ross’ side fell behind to a first half strike from Armand Gnanduillet but managed to salvage their favourite result with a Jack Baldwin equaliser in the second period.
The only defining image of the game was Will Grigg rounding the goalkeeper and missing an open net on his home debut, luckily, he’s managed to put that behind him and has hit a rich vein of scoring fo....ah, never mind.