Ahead of our game against Sunderland, Pete Sixsmith who writes for Salut Sunderland, has answered some questions for us.

Scott the Red: Why have Sunderland been so poor this season?

Pete Sixsmith: We have never got going. The first home game was postponed, there were two International weekends, the new players (Johnson in particular) took time to settle in, some of the others had a poor pre season and have not found form. There is no single reason. Most of the players are good enough and the manager is as good as anyone a club like ours can get. Hopefully, we are on the up now – just in time to meet the league leaders.

STR: How highly do you rate, O’Shea, Brown and Campbell?

PS: Campbell has been very unfortunate with injuries and will be leaving at the end of the season when his contract ends. Brown has been out for 12 months and is, apparantly, close to a come back. Hmmm. O’Shea is a good player but his distribution is awful and is reminiscent of the central defenders that Mick McCarthy brought to the club. There is always room to hide at Manchester United; there is nowhere to hide at Sunderland – we don’t have the players who can cover up any deficiencies.

STR: Were you sad to see Richardson leave?

PS: Like O’Shea, he was a good player, but had a tendency to flatter to deceive. He will never be forgotten for rattling home a free kick that beat the Mags four years ago.

STR: What do you make of Sunderland fans celebrating City winning the league on the last game of last season?

PS: I saw it as quite funny. I am sure that you know that MUFC is not universally loved and that the manager, although admired, does annoy many opposition fans. The reaction was as much to the incredible turn of events as anything else. On a serious note, I spent the last 10 minutes of that game watching Paul Scholes, who stopped playing and wandered around, finding it hard to believe that he was likely to win a League Championship medal after coming out of retirement. And remember, we did take 4 points (should have been 6) of your “noisy neighbours”. I mean, if you can’t win at Wigan…

STR: If you could have any United player at Sunderland, who would it be an why?

PS: Where to start. A fully fit Vidic would settle us down at the back, where we have started to give away silly goals. He is a beast of a player. I can’t think of any supporter who wouldn’t love to have van Persie. If Steve Bruce were still manager, he would probably sign Bebe.

STR: What would realistically make this season a success for Sunderland?

PS: The ideal position for me would be 17th. with Newcastle United 18th. by a point – we sneaked one off them in October thanks to Demba Ba deflecting a John O’Shea header into the net. Even better if they had Shearer back as manager. An old man can dream…

STR: Prediction for tomorrow?

PS: I saw us win at Old Trafford 2-1 in 1968, the day that City last won the title. We nearly did it a couple of years ago and the chances of doing it this year are about as good as those of Sooty failing to cover Harry Corbett in ink or water. I am pretty sure you will win, but I travel in hope.

STR: I can’t imagine you were making knobs out of yourself by celebrating City’s title win back in 68! Cheers Pete.

Read STR’s enemy chat on Salut Sunderland