Baz Posted December 30, 2007 Share Posted December 30, 2007 Well the home game with Sunderland marks the first game of 2008 and what will the New Year bring? For Rovers hopefully another late season surge up the table and automatic European qualification, for Sunderland success is surely survival and the chance to build in the summer. The Mackems early season form seems a distant memory now and confidence looks low. At the start of the season some of the fans where looking at Europe, but most will settle on not having to play at the dingledome. For me this is a match that means a little more than usual as I went to Uni up in Sund’land (as the locals pronounce it) and have many happy memory's of the place, and am a regular visitor back up there. Strangely we are playing our only home game of the festive period the day after New Year, and again out of sync with the rest of the fixtures, so thank you Mr Sky for this, to be fair I feel sorry for Boro fans – their fixtures where Big Club and Pompey away – a couple of local Derbies then! Rovers despite seemingly able to give the first goal away in every game we play – 11 in a row I think now, are comfortable in mid-table now with 29 points from the first 20 games of the season, and within 3 points of European places. 4 points away from home is a decent return for 2 away games, but we seem to have been in the 20+ point’s zone of the league for far too long, ever since that manager of the month award for Sparky. Sunderland The City of Sunderland has a population of 280,000 and a catchment area for the club of much more with no league clubs in County Durham. That is nearly 3 times that of 105,000 in Blackburn. The official nickname of the club is now the Black Cats – voted for once they had left Roker Park and the Rokerites behind. Famous worldwide for its once massive ship-building industry Sunderland now relies on service industry work with a lot of call centers for large banks and mobile phone companies located in the area, althought there is a huge Nissan factory on the outskirt of town. Roy Keane is the current “world-class” (according to Niall Quinn) manager at the Stadium of Light and seemingly employs anyone who can claim Irish heritage. Famous for his tough-tackling no-nonsense football, and constant harrassing of referees he was always a figure of hate for opposition fans. He seems to have brought the same mould of play to his side – tough to beat, hard working but unlike Roy, lacking in class. They like to pressure from the front and play long balls in behind the full-backs and swing crosses in for Kenwyne Jones. The huge outlay by the club in the summer hasn’t brought much success – c. £5m apiece for Michael Chopra, Greg Halford or Kieran Richardson anyone? £9m for a goalie? This to improve a side that would have beaten either Rovers or Chelski in the FA cup semi last season, according to Roy. Only 5 goal Kenwyne Jones seems to be doing particularly well. Previous Rovers players in their current squad include Andy Cole, and workaholic now defensive midfielder Dwight Yorke – other recent moves between the clubs include Micky Gray and Jason McAteer. One to look out for is Grant Leadbitter, a local lad who has come through the ranks at the club and been capped at youth levels for England, he is a tough-tackler, mobile and has a good eye for goal too. Still a little inconsistent, but on his day looks the part. Sunderland are in my opinion one of the “massive” clubs, similar in many ways to Citeh, Barcodes and Big Club that have won nowt for decades but still think they are a cut above clubs such as Rovers. Rovers Rovers have the full squad to pick from but the absence of Savage and Roberts looks set to continue, with little coming from the club it could well be that they have played their last games in blue and white halves. Hopefully Bentley and Roque will continue their magnificent recent form although Benni looks like he is starting to get more involved in games more recently, and has come close – a glut of goals from Benni can really help us realise the European hopes, and who wouldn’t want another away trip to Leverkusen or Amsterdam? The Game The game on paper looks like a home banker but I'm sure it will be a little tougher than that. A good result will set us up and hopefully move us back up the table a little, however, as always these are the games Rovers always seem to struggle with. Recent form shows 2 wins and a draw in the last 6 games for both sides, although Sunderland have picked up just 2 points away from home this season. My Prediction - 3-1 to the Rovers. Happy New Year to one and all !!! - (Except Sunderland fans who are only granted this from Jan 3rd onwards) Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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