Whether it’s a good, bad or indifferent set of results for Newcastle United each matchday this season, we always seem to have one solace.

A guaranteed cheer up method.

Checking the Sunderland score.

Apparently, they have won five games this season, but I for one cannot remember any. I’ll take the Football League’s word for it. It seems the Mackems are destined for relegation unless Chris Coleman can muster a miracle. They do have a track record for outrageous survival bids but this time, even for that lot, it would be a remarkable feat.

To be truthful, like I suspect 99% of other Newcastle fans, I was extremely pleased to see Sunderland relegated last season.

Even without the local rivalry, my contempt grew in recent years as I believe Sunderland were one of the clubs summing up all that was wrong with football in the Premier League era. The way survival was celebrated and glorified every season, after the inevitable managerial change. It felt like they were making up the numbers even more than we were. Neither side showed any ambition beyond staying in the top flight.

To be fair to them, at least they managed to reach a cup final in 2014. We couldn’t even manage that, a little light relief from often dreadful league seasons, at least that lot got a day out at Wembley.

The longer the Sunderland wretched run goes on though, the harder it becomes to enjoy seeing them lose. Don’t get me wrong, I was delighted to see them go down last season, but if honest with myself, that was more down to a personal fear of derby matches and what they had become. Our record in recent seasons has been an embarrassment considering the standard of the Sunderland sides we have faced. Now it has all become slightly sad, and more crucially a bit too close to home.

It is easy for us to get sucked into thinking we would be able to bounce straight back at the first attempt, once again, if necessary. In both of our promotion campaigns of recent years, whilst thoroughly deserving to be champions, we have also found ourselves in fortunate circumstances.

In 2009/10, we essentially had a Premier League XI, few injuries, and dressing room character and determination as good as it’s ever been. In 2016/17 we had Rafa Benitez, a world-class European Cup-winning manage, in the second tier.

It’s hard to imagine that scenario being repeated and it is easy to imagine a very different campaign panning out had Benitez not stayed.

As bad as they have been, Sunderland this season are a more accurate projection of what can happen to clubs when relegated from the top-flight. They have players on high wages who are not performing, with little motivation to get back to the top, and far too much deadwood to shift momentum in the right direction. At the time of appointment for both managers that have occupied the SOL dugout this season, they could appear shrewd appointments.

Simon Grayson is an experienced Championship operator and the move demonstrated they were seeking stability in the hotseat (at least it seemed that way in the summer).

Chris Coleman’s reputation had rocketed after Wales’ Euro 2016 run and I suspect he may have got a Premier League job had he held out a few months longer. It seemed another good appointment. Yet neither have proved able to stop the rot. Now the Mackems are facing oblivion.

How easily could that have been us rather than them, particularly in the Mike Ashley era? Very.

How easily could that still be us if Rafa Benitez left? Again, very.

It shows just why Premier League status is so vital. It also shows how it might be third time unlucky if we are relegated again under Mike Ashley’s stewardship in the future. It could be us facing the Championship trapdoor, ‘doing a Leeds’.

Maybe I should be enjoying the demise of our closest rivals a lot more but I have a nagging feeling it may have gone too far. I know others are loving it and rightly so but it’s becoming too much for me. When does it end? When the Mackems are in the National League North with a derby against Spennymoor? I know that might be what some want but we might need each other.

At the time of our relegation we needed a break from the derbies after the six-in-a-row debacle, it felt like light relief. Looking at the current situation however, it could be quite some time before we have another Tyne-Wear derby. Like it or not we need them for those games, even when they are painful.

Bobby Robson articulated this better than I ever could, in his post-match interview after a 1-0 win over the Mackems in 2003. “I’m a North-East lad and I… I want all the clubs to do well in the North-East, and these are great games for the region. Lots of rivalry, lot of keenness.”

He knew how important it was to the region. Wanting all the North-Eastern clubs to do well may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does show the differing views between supporters on this issue. Robson himself was often regularly seen at the SOL, as well as SJP, in his retirement. At one time it was not uncommon to go to each ground on alternating weekends. My grandfather, also a lifelong mag, was always phoned by his friend Kenny a Sunderland fan, before every derby, to discuss the match and situation despite the fact they lived at opposite ends of the country. Respect can still be part of rivalry, if you want it to be.

It shouldn’t make you any less of a fan if you aren’t taking absolute delight in every Sunderland defeat and doesn’t mean a derby day win feels any less sweet. Likewise, if you are enjoying the Mackems debacle, why should you not? No guilty feelings for wanting to be top dogs in the region and hating the red and whites with a passion. For me though, I am finally starting to get to not wanting them to lose heavily every week and it is strange.

It may be that I need a cheer up after the Huddersfield game, and must cling onto the fact that Sunderland could be heading for the third tier, but by then the laughter may be hollow. All the best television comedies also have a hint of tragedy in them lurking in the background. It feels like the Mackem roadshow may have just jumped the shark.

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  • NUFCDan

    Honestly I wanted them to come back up so we could start putting the 6 in a row right.

    • Wor Lass

      Didnt see yours until I`d posted mine – exactly!

      • NUFCDan

        Otherwise if they end up folding (potentially realistic) and having to work their way back up the leagues they’ll be playing in the Northern League and still bragging about 6 in a row…

        • gallowgate26

          They’ll be bragging about that for the next 30 years, I’ll have a bet with anyone right now about that.

    • Kneebotherm8

      I’d fancy Rafa to stuff them as opposed to Pardew/McLaren…a pair of clueless twts…….

  • Wor Lass

    It`s nice to see the Mackems get their come-uppance and I`ve taken the mick out of my neighbours as much as I can without starting WW3 but I`m with Sir Bobby. I want all the NE teams doing well but with us doing best. How are we ever going to avenge the “6-in-a-row debacle” if were never in the same division?

    • Jezza

      Yes as I have been saying for a while now it is in nobody’s interest to see the North East becoming a footballing wilderness. Those Newcastle supporters revelling in Sunderland’s present troubles and wishing even worse things on them are being incredibly short sighted.

      • Damon Horner

        I must admit I am enjoying seeing them cry and suffer a bit but I agree for the sake of North East football we can’t afford to lose them.

        • Geordiegiants

          Fock them!

      • Rich Lawson

        Hartlepool,Darlington,Gateshead ? Very sad.

    • Lakeland Mag

      Hear ! Hear !

    • gallowgate26

      They know we’ll avenge it and are dreading playing us, for all the bravado of 6-0…(which will go on for decades as it’s all they’ve now got) Can you imagine Lascelles and Ritchie losing that many times to them? Contrast the honest triers they had then with the absolute losers they’ve got now and it’s easy to see why.

  • Paul Patterson

    Can’t see why we’re still focusing on them to be honest.
    It was our rotten record against them for a few seasons that kept them in the league. They should have been relegated sooner than they were as we gifted them six points season after season. That’s the biggest shame . .

    • Jezza

      Spot on. The only thing that kept Sunderland in the Premiership for so long was Newcastle United. It wasn’t just the annual gift of 6 points but also the knock on results they got after beating us. It says everything that as soon as we weren’t up there any more they went straight down.

  • David2211

    I feel like I am a Sunderland supporter these days because this website has article after article on them. I don’t care about their ‘plight’, we have enough problems of our own.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      there`ll be more problems to come if Fatso doesn`t sell up, believe you me

    • Jonas

      I second that
      can we not just forget about them until they are (if they are) relegated which may be.worth an article

    • Steven05

      You are talking rubbish mate – it’s only about 50% of the articles – the other half are about a Fulham player! 😂

      • gallowgate26

        Oh that’s not true! 25% are ‘what did the other clubs fans write’. :P

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          That’s not true, 50% is a cut and paste of “this is what we wrote yesterday”….errrm which includes 50% of Sunderland,50% of a Fulham player and 25% of what other clubs fans write.

          Another 20% is nade if of adding “interesting” or “must read” to the headline.

          • Rich Lawson

            Now take out the ones that have Graham Porter as the author.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Yeah,
    i wouldn`t laugh to hard,
    if things go pear shaped in the summer between the Fat Lad & Rafa we could very well be in the same position in the near future

  • ghostrider

    The reason we aren’t like Sunderland at this moment in time is because we have Mike Ashley but people will never admit to that as long as their devotion to Kevin Keegan stays strong as a man who could basically do no wrong, just as Rafa is getting the accolades right now.

    Let’s put it in a more simplified way.

    Had Sir John Hall and Shepherd and co not enticed Ashley into buying the club, they would have took us down to the depths themselves through panic management just like Ellis Short has done.

    Ellis Short is not a bad man, he’s just a dreamer and gambled on his dreams with a certain amount of contingency plans that he could afford to put into play…all of which clearly failed.

    Sir John Hall and Shepherd had no such contingency plans left other than Mike Ashley.
    That was their last throw of the dice for Newcastle United’s premier league status, because there was no more borrowing on a whim to right wrongs for those men.

    This is why we are where we are, right now. It’s because of Mike Ashley.
    We are a premier league football club that’s made some errors in his tenure, as he has but he’s always had a contingency plan that did not require any outside help. All in house to this very day.

    So in response to this sentence…………………. “How easily could that have been us rather than them, particularly in the Mike Ashley era? Very.”…………..

    I’d say, not easily at all.
    I’ll tell you one thing though. Imagine the state we could be in if a Staveley led consortium managed to entice Ashley to justs ell up and get out by using the fans hatred of him as their crow bar to get the club on the cheap.
    What does this tell anyone?

    Mike Ashley is no angel but he’s no devil either and we could be doing a million times much worse than what people think we’re doing right now.

    • Cockneytrev

      Bollovks !!!
      Hoop licker,,👅👅

    • Lakeland Mag

      Lol

  • Jonas

    You’ll kick yourself for your sympathies when they next get the chance or presumed chance to stick the knife in.
    through the 90s we totally dominated whilst.accomplishing things for ourselves (which they never do) – title.challenges, great football, great players,.Europe,.champions league – they won a game in 99 and all.that counted for nothing to them.

  • NUFCLX

    They had the let’s all laugh at Newcastle banners, should we get let’s all feel sorry for Sunderland banners. The majority of them hate our team and hate our city (Jealousy).
    Lead boots and deep water spring to my mind – Keep on sinking Sunderland.
    I have no problem with the Smogs coming up, it is a pure football rivalry we have with them.

    • kingfisher

      Well said nufclx.They hate us and our City but they still come here to use our airport. And of course, they call S*****land a city, but it doesn’t have a cathedral,so that’s a load of b*****ks 😁

  • Geordiegiants

    When Rafa goes at the end of the season, we will be in a deep decline just the same. I hope that Jabba try’s to sell the club for a quid the same as short is and we all stand up and buy it.
    It’s still funny as f though the inbreds gone.

  • HarryHype59

    Let us be under no illusion. Under MA, the aim of this club is solely to survive in the EPL. Like Sunlun we are one of the teams making up the numbers.