Following the celebration of Manchester City’s last minute title win by fans at the Stadium of Light last season, Manchester United have the opportunity to put one hand on the trophy whilst also pushing Sunderland closer to the relegation zone. Depending on results, Sunderland could find themselves 17th in the league if United beat them and Aston Villa win.

“When the final whistle went, we didn’t really know what the score at City was. But then we heard the Sunderland fans cheering,” Wayne Rooney said afterwards. “It was sad to see that because they should be supporting their own team really. They didn’t have the best of seasons so for them to be cheering like that was sad. It was something myself and a lot of the players won’t forget.”

United don’t need any extra incentive to win this game, as we could go 18 points clear at the top of the table ahead of City’s 3pm kick-off against Newcastle, but I’m sure memories of last season won’t hurt in helping us get the job done.

Ahead of the game, Pete Sixsmith from the excellent Salut Sunderland has answered some questions for us.

Scott the Red: What are you feelings on Sunderland’s season?
Pete Sixsmith: It reminds me very much of Baldrick’s War Poem in Blackadder Goes Forth – “It started badly, got no better in the middle and tailed off badly towards the end”. It really has been a disaster and we fear that the worst is yet to come. After you have performed your ritual disembowelling of us, we play Chelsea, Everton and the riff-raff from up the road in quick succession. We could be bottom of the league by mid-April.

STR: Is O’Neill the right man for the job?
PS: If he isn’t who is? We thought he was he perfect fit; experienced in the Premier League and Europe; intelligent and articulate; a boyhood Sunderland fan; a real name to attract better players and move us up the table. At the time of writing he looks exhausted and bereft of ideas, a combination of Lawrie McMenemy and Mick Buxton, our two worst post war managers. The big problem is if he goes who do we look to next? Do you know of any experienced Scottish managers considering a career change?

STR: Ha, you should be so lucky. You can’t have Fergie but you’ve had your fair share of ex-reds. How would you rate the signings of O’Shea and Brown?
PS: Both have been disappointments. Brown looks crocked and has not played for a year. O’Shea is creaking and is in a whole new situation, never having had to wage a relegation battle at Old Trafford. His passing is awful. Was it always thus?

STR: No comment. What did you make of Rooney claiming that the Sunderland game was one of the games he looked for at the start of this season following the reaction of your fans on the last day of the season?
PS: I rarely worry about anything that Wayne Rooney or any other Premier League footballer says. It happened long ago in the mists of time.. I can’t understand fans who harbour grudges. You would never catch me rejoicing in the demise of Coventry City because of a controversial late kick off in the final game of the season in 1977.

STR: If you could have one player from United, who would it be?
PS: The way we are playing at the moment, I would take your whole development squad and play them; t
hey couldn’t be any worse than our current first team. Failing that, Nemanja Vidic, who would scare the rest of our chicken hearted squad into playing to something like their reputations.

STR: What are your predictions for the game?
PS: When we beat you at home, we get relegated (1984-5, 1990-1,1996-7) so I won’t tempt fate by forecasting a home win. A comfortable win (2 or 3 -0) to the Champions elect.

STR: Can we not have a United win and a Sunderland relegation…?




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