The next three games are pretty horrible on paper. Hull at home won’t be easy and they deserve to be around the playoffs even though their form has suffered recently — but it’s a home game so we’ve got to be taking three points there.
Stoke… Jesus. I hate playing Stoke. They’re unbeaten since Alex Neil got sacked and I still have seriously bad memories of them battering us at the SOL last season. Our midfield got completely overrun by theirs and I don’t think we’ve gotten any better from a defensive midfield perspective since then, so I’d probably take a point.
And then just when you’re hoping for something more winnable to come around… Boro. Fooking Boro. Our away form is crap, and they take these games far more seriously than we do, so I’m expecting a grim outcome if I’m honest. We’ll lose there unfortunately… every time this group plays in a high pressure game they crumble, and I’m not convinced that we’ll be any different when we visit the Riverside.
So… four points is what I expect. Not exactly great and possibly not good enough, but that’s what I’m thinking. And even then that’s me being optimistic as Hull are probably the best side on paper of the three teams we’ve got coming up.
That won’t be enough for Michael Beale to keep the pitchfork wielders from wanting his head on a spike, so as you can probably tell, I’m not looking forward to what’s to come. Anything more than four points would be a massive bonus.
Andrew Smithson says...
I think Sunderland really needs to go on a decent run in the next few games — not just because the team is still in with a very good chance of making the play-offs, but because the general mood amongst the fanbase is pretty low right now, and I fear this has the potential to derail things longer term if not checked.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the frustrations are fully justified and will take more than a few wins to put right, but there seem to be a few taking it too far at the moment for whatever reason, and they are trying to bring others with them. We could do without any large scale in-fighting, though, and a pick-me-up on the pitch would maybe help quieten down some of the more unjustified shouts.
I wonder perhaps if one of the less obvious factors contributing towards the angst is the lack of draws. We seem to either win or lose at the moment, so we go from one week to the next flipping between extreme viewpoints and a sense that we are either promotion certainties or absolute no-hopers. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, so these upcoming matches could give a clearer indication.
I would class myself more towards the ‘happy clapper’ end of the scale and think we can do well in the games, particularly with two of them being at home where our form is good. Middlesbrough could be suffering either a semi-final hangover or be focusing on a trip to Wembley by the time we play them too, and prior to the Ipswich Town loss, we’d looked okay against the stronger sides, so there’s a chance for us there as well.
If we were to draw a couple, I personally wouldn’t be too worried. It could settle a few people down while still keeping us in the chasing pack, but the positive side of my nature has me leaning towards a bit more — seven points in total, and if that includes beating Stoke City and putting the recent needle to bed, then all the better!
Malc Dugdale says...
I’d like the next three games to be unbeaten ideally, which will be a decent achievement with the teams to come being Hull, Stoke, and Boro.
We have had a couple of poor results post the decent win against Preston on New Year’s Day (granted one being the mags) and steadying the ship is the order of the rest of this month and into early February.
If we can start with a home win against Hull, that will be a great start, and they haven’t won so far this year in the league or cup, so hopefully, that’s a strong bet.
Stoke is unbeaten in the last five, but we owe them a kicking after the game where Alex Neil came back to batter us, so hopefully two home wins, or at least 4 points from the two would be nice.
Boro is on a win-lose-repeat sequence right now, and it being at their place is a big factor. I’d take a draw there, though a win with one of the others being a draw is fine.
So seven points from 9 would be a great bounce back, but I’d take five. With our form and the way Beale is still finding out how we can improve, it’s likely the five rather than the seven, but who knows.