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04/05: Preview: Sunderland
Opposition opinion
by Roger Lincoln of Ready to Go

What happened last season?
Last season was an odd one; pleasing and disappointing at the same time. After the previous season where we broke all relegation records, who would have put money on us reaching the FA Cup Semi-Final and the Play-Off Semis? If you'd offered most Mackems that at the start of the season they'd have taken your hand off. But to lose to Millwall in the FA Cup and let Palace pull a goal back in injury time and then lose the penalty shoot-out after extra time hurt. Our hopes were raised in both competitions only to be dashed.

What's going to happen next season?
This is a tricky one to answer - we'll be starting this season with a very different squad to last season. First team regulars Paul Thirlwell, Jason McAteer, Phil Babb, Joachim Bjorklund, Tommy Smith and Darren Byfield have all been released and the club still seems to be touting Marcus Stewart around in order to get him off the wages bill.

In their places we have brought in some "promising" youngsters who have either been playing at a lower level or in the reserves at Premiership Clubs. Whether these boys can perform in "The Championship" aka the second division remains to be seen. If they do, we'll do well...if they don't we won't.

My personal prediction is another play-off spot.

Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)

"if sunderland sign next few players they have been linked with, get your money on them to win the league" (that would have included Connolly, right? - ed)

"Number one is Gary Rowell, Number Two is Gary Rowell, Number 3 is Gary Rowell, etc........... We all live in a Gary Rowell World."

"I met Kev Phillips dad in A & E in Swindon once"

"I was conceived the night Sunderland won the 73 FA Cup. Get in"

"Choice --> Consequence. There is no escape from causality."

"Watford is the friendliest place I have been to on a match day. Yay...."

"I've got a tongue that's 10 inches long, and I've learnt to breath through my ears."

"Not really. Actually, aye, there is.... ..... actually nah, I was lying. Mind you, cheers for Kevin Phillips like."

"Tommy Smith was ia crap, bet you glad you got rid"

"I live in Barnet and I'm 55, I think!"

"Our lass is pregnant and she's a total mentalist at the minute, and I'm getting no action"

"Elton John makes shite music. And Kikki Dee is a boiler, even when she was younger. Personally I prefer the porky stoppy one off the Sugarbabes."

"Sunderland announced de-listing of their shares on Stock Market on Wednesday. I lost enough money to buy two season tickets at Sunderland.... and about half a pie at The Bridge.. ho hum"

"Formula 1 isn't all that bad. No really, it's not. Bear with it. Coffee helps...."

"I hope you have a better pa announcer next season"