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Roker Roundtable: Reacting to Sunderland’s 2023/2024 Championship schedule!

Following the release of the fixtures for the upcoming season, we asked our writers for their thoughts on how it’s looking for Sunderland and which games could be pivotal

Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Gav says…

My thoughts are that we play everyone twice, and that if we win them all we’ll win the league...

I jest.

Obviously people try and work out the way a season will map out once the fixtures are published and whilst it looks like we have a fairly routine opening run of games and then a sticky-looking October, it’s almost impossible to say right now what the case may be, as so much can change between now and then.

Teams will have unexpected poor runs of form and injuries, managers will leave, and key players will be stolen away - and all of that adds to the story of the season as it unfolds.

That said, I think our first five games should give fans hope that we could have a successful season, by getting off to a strong start.

There are no ‘nailed-on’ wins in this division but there are lots of unambitious, middling football clubs that will amount to very little, and we have to take advantage of that.

Some may look at opening the season at home against a team who were in League One last season as a favourable fixture, but I think Ipswich are going to be riding high off the back of their promotion last time around, and with the game being in front of the Sky Sports cameras, we have to be careful that we don’t underestimate them.

The run towards the end of the season doesn’t look too bad either, and rounding off with a home game is sweet, whilst our festive fixtures aren’t too bad at all. Yes, we’re away twice, but they’re both games against clubs who aren’t too far away, so at least we don’t have to travel far.

It’s just nice to be able to look forward to the new season now and with the fixtures out there, it’s got people buzzing again, working out which games they’re going to go to, planning their festive trips around the football and putting formative plans in place.

It doesn’t feel like two minutes since the last season ended and before you know it, it will feel like two minutes before we’re stood inside the Stadium of Light on that Sunday tea time watching the Lads march out onto the pitch against Ipswich.

Bring it on. I can’t wait!

Preston North End v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Deepdale Stadium Photo by Tim Markland/PA Images via Getty Images

Jon Guy says…

The fixture list highlights just how competitive this division will be next season.

We have the chance to get off to a good start in the first five games, and it’ll give us a good idea of how we’ll fare.

While everyone is looking at the opening fixtures, scroll to April and we have a really tough run-in. If we’re right in the mix with five to go, we’re going to have some massive games.

For me, the visit of Leeds United on December 12th will be a great game under the lights, a North Sea wind, and a full Stadium of Light. They’re the kind of games I really love.

Given the way Tony Mowbray wants to play, we’re in for a great season.

It’s Sunderland, so we know there’ll be twists and turns aplenty, and I’m so looking forward to August 6th!


Malc Dugdale says…

The main thing I’m happy about is that we have one month without playing any of the relegated Premier League teams.

For me, it’s important that we start the season with strong performances and with confidence.

It’s a lottery as to who’ll run out for the relegated teams but they generally manage to hold on to a lot of quality, which may challenge us. However, given how we played against Fulham in the FA Cup last season, we may do better than we expect.

It isn’t until September that we play a former top flight team in Southampton, and considering how we sometimes leave our transfer business until the end of the window, we may have new players who won’t be ready for that.

However, with the signings we’ve made so far, hopefully this will enable the likes of Jobe Bellingham, Luis Semedo and Nectar Triantis to get ready for what’ll doubtless be a different challenge to the likes of Ipswich, Preston and Rotherham.

I’m also looking forward to Middlesbrough in early October, Leicester later in the same month, and Plymouth away in late November.

The partner of one of my daughters is an Argyle fan and I never got the chance to go down there when we were in League One, so I’m very much hoping we can go there and totally hammer them. It’ll give me some ammunition for months if we do, but if we screw it up, the opposite clearly applies!

Leeds at home will be a challenge in mid-December, and Coventry at home in the days before Christmas will also be a decent test, probably for the stewards too, who generally have to catch the morons who always throw pyros down onto the fans below them.

Hopefully we’ll get something against Leeds and then smash the oft-homeless Midlands outfit, and we can go into the New Year in a decent position.

January and February look reasonably balanced but with Leicester and Southampton back to back in early March, and Leeds in early April, we’ll need to play well to maintain some momentum heading towards spring.

Our run-in looks pretty challenging in places, with several teams who were contending for the playoffs last season to once again overcome.

Playing Sheffield Wednesday at home for our final match in early May should hopefully be a decent test but one we can easily overcome. They’ll bring a good crowd and I’m pleased they came up, partly as I live near Peterborough, and the way they came back against my local team was a joy to watch. Again, loads of ammunition for banter in the pub!

Whatever order the games come up, I think we’ve got a great chance of going again and shooting for the playoffs at least.

Although there are some challenging spells and periods where we should really kick on, we can beat anyone on that fixture list, and I just wish it all started sooner, rather than the first week of August.

Bring it on, and hurry up! ‎

Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Ewood Park Photo by Isaac Parkin/PA Images via Getty Images

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