THINGS might be bad enough already for Sunderland Football Club, but they are about to get a whole lot worse.
That was the overwhelmingly negative opinion voiced by shoppers we approached in South Shields ahead of tomorrow’s Wear-Tyne derby – even among supporters of the Black Cats.
Newcastle United have enjoyed a mixed start to the season, but rumblings of discontent – and predictions of the sack for manager Alan Pardew – have dissipated in recent weeks after a couple of strong performances.
Now, the Toon Army can rest easily as their team are snuggled happily in mid-table.
South of the Tyne, life isn’t so rosy. Sunderland are holding up the Premiership table with a paltry one point from their opening eight games.
Paolo Di Canio may be gone, but it looks as if new boss Gus Poyet has a huge task to avoid relegation.
After their defeat to Swansea last week, the team couldn’t be going into the Newcastle game in worse shape.
Thankfully for Black Cat fans, the form book can go out of the window in derby games.
Sunderland supporter Brenda Ridge, of the Parkway estate, South Shields, hopes that holds true.
The 67-year-old, a volunteer at South Tyneside District Hospital and a fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “My partner is a season ticket holder at the Stadium of Light, and I know how bad a start to the season it has been.
“They need a win more than Newcastle. My heart says Sunderland will win, but my head’s not so sure. I’d go with 2-1 to Newcastle.”
That view is shared by Dennis Askwith, of Wear Court, South Shields.
The 66-year-old, formerly employed at the old Reyrolle factory in Hebburn, said: “You can never predict a derby result – I’ve made that mistake in the past – but let’s just say that I’m quietly confident of a Newcastle win.
“I certainly don’t have any pity for Sunderland, given the position they are in. I hope we can help kill them off.”
Chef Paul Byers, of Westoe, South Shields, is not a fan of either side, but he’s hoping the Toon Army is celebrating come 2.20pm tomorrow. The 37-year-old said: “You always have rivalry because it’s a territorial thing. It goes back to medieval times and before.
“I hope Newcastle win purely on the basis that I prefer the city as a place over Sunderland.”
Joseph Dowson, 63, of Petrel Close, South Shields, admits the majority of his family are black-and-whiters, and that included his late brother Brian ‘Big Hec’ Dowson, the famous charity fundraiser.
He said: “Brian used to collect outside of St James’s Park, but I think it would be nice if Sunderland got a draw this time around.
“They need the points more than Newcastle. There’s too much hype about the game. I don’t know why the fans can’t just live and let live.”
Robert Burnett, 49, of John Williamson Street, South Shields, added: “I support Newcastle and hope they come away with a win, and I think they will, probably by two clear goals.
“I also hope there is no repeat of the violence we saw last season.
“Fans should remember there are kids at the games, and it’s a bad example to pass on.”
Student Dominic Byers, 17, predicts a Newcastle triumph, adding: “My stepdad’s a Newcastle fan. I think they’ll win 1-0.”