Jake: ‘deep inside the last chance saloon’

Salut! Sunderland tends to avoid, when it has its thinking cap on, such phrases as ‘must-win game’. It has become one of the more irritating of footballing cliches, on a par with the inability of newspapers and broadcasters to abstain from referring to people who ‘cannot be named for legal reasons’, which is among the more irritating of journalistic cliches (there’s usually just the one reason, one that can easily be shared with readers).

I don’t think Micky Gray used “must-win” while I was listening to him on TalkSport this morning but the presenter, Jim White certainly did. And we know where we’ll be if we manage yet again to lose …

Here, anyway, are a few questions and answers with the Bolton fan site Burnden Aces to reciprocate its help in finding us a Who are You? candidate. I felt a bit of a fraud since my first match of this season is not until Boro at the weekend but the questions arrived too late for me to ask Pete Sixsmith, who suffers more than most, to do the honours. But like all exiled or partly exiled SAFC fans, I keep in touch as best I can, aided and abetted by Barnes and Benno and, of course, the mighty if slimmed-down Sixer …

Burnden Aces:: Sunderland are really struggling at the moment and are yet to record a home victory this year. What does Simon Grayson have to do to turn things around?

M Salut: Many, maybe most supporters, would say he should resign. I am less sure.

He was dealt a terrible hand. He’s had no money despite the £30m received for Jordan Pickford, an owner who just wants out and a complete lack of confidence and – dare I say it – desire among the players he inherited.

Two or three quick wins would make a lot of the anger and gloom recede. If not, then I think he needs to be gone by Christmas – provided anyone who is any good is daft enough to replace him.

Grayson joined Sunderland from Preston with a respectable reputation and was expected to at least rejuvenate a struggling side. What have you made of the job he has done so far?

He seems to lack organisational flair and has been outwitted by almost every visiting manager. His substitutions and/or lack of them have irritated the fans and he hasn’t a clue what his best side is. Otherwise, perfect.

On paper, Sunderland have one of the strongest squads in the league – with the likes of Lewis Grabban, Aiden McGeady and James Vaughan. What has gone wrong this season – has the team failed to gel or is the weak mentality of last season’s campaign still lurking beneath?

There is something seriously wrong at the club. The ownership issue, the debts and the lack of spending power are all taking their toll. Pals who suffer week after week – l spend a lot of time abroad so am spared – say it’s painful to watch. Individuals have talent but it’s not coming together.

Looking forward to Tuesday’s game – who would you pick out as Sunderland’s biggest threat and who would you identify as Bolton’s key man?

Grabban gets a few goals though can’t jump, Duncan Watmore has pace and is nearly back to full fitness, and McGeady is capable of scoring from distance. The trouble is these things don’t tend to happen in the same match. [abject apologies to Burnden Aces for neglecting to nominate a Bolton threat; without knowing how they’ll line up, I’d say Ameobi because he’s a Mag and Alnwick/Buckley to keep us out/bag a goal just to annoy us – Ed]

Finally, how do you see Tuesday’s game panning out? Will Sunderland finally record their first home victory of the year or will Bolton pick up their first three points up on the road?

We have to win sometime. I am not sure how Grayson, for all his disadvantages, can survive if we don’t. But if you weather a mild early storm and get in a few average crosses, it could all go wrong for us yet again.
I will go for a nervy 2-1 home win – without the least confidence.

* Sunderland and Bolton fans will find a feast of pre-match content – Sixer looking at his earliest encounter with Bolton, a prize Guess the Score and another classy Who are You? interview – by clicking on the image that comes next …..

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by – and principally for – supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

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