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‘I wrote this 9 months ago – Sunderland fans looking forward to playing Newcastle in 2022/23 Championship’

2 weeks ago
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On 22 September 2021, I wrote an article entitled ‘Sunderland fans talking with increasing confidence of facing Newcastle United in 2022/23 Championship.’

Sunderland fans at that point growing increasingly confident that derbies were just around the corner and sadly, they weren’t talking about League Two Hartlepool United (currently doing very nicely, sixth in League Two).

Instead, the message from Sunderland fans was that they were now / then on an upward trajectory and could very shortly be playing Newcastle United on a level footing.

Back on 22 September 2021, Sunderland fans enjoying the fact their team were joint top of League One with Wigan

In contrast, Steve Bruce had overseen a start of four defeats and two draws in the opening six matches (all competitions), Newcastle exiting the League Cup in the second round and in the relegation zone with only two points from a possible fifteen, two tough away matches up next.

For Sunderland, it was dreams of League One and League Cup glory, eight wins, one draw and just the one defeat in their ten matches (all competitions) so far.

At the time, some Sunderland fans (see below) saying that they hadn’t seen anything so positive since Steve Bruce and Sam Allardyce were managing the Mackems.

For an unbiased view of what was likely to happen in the 2021/22 season, back on 22 September 2021 the bookies rated Newcastle United as a 1/1 (even money, toss of a coin) to go down in Bruce’s third season, whilst for Sunderland, when it came to promotion they were also generally a 1/1 shot. So, the impartial bookies at the time thought Newcastle United had the same chance of going down, as the Mackems had of coming up.

Back then (22 September 2021) these were the comments I saw online from Sunderland fans that prompted my article just under nine months ago:

‘Just think, we could be playing the mags next season on an upward trajectory.’

‘Of that I think you will be right.’

‘You can just feel it at all the home and away matches.

Looking forward to getting out early for pre-match tankards with you mates.

Our kids actually watching the match!

It’s obviously early days, but on the playing and recruitment side of things, the club deserve massive credit for finally putting together team/club it’s looking like we can be proud of, and get behind.

I’ve a feeling this season is gonna be a good one.

HA’WAY ME BONNY LADS. FTM’

‘First time in a long, long time I’m buzzing for the match and looking forward to it all week.

I don’t think I’ve felt like that since the early days under Bruce and then the latter days of Allardyce.’

‘Our problem will be keeping the team/squad together, if we do have success. The same as it was in 73.’

Well, one of the two things did happen of course.

The Mackems had a typical rollercoaster season, with the Sunderland fans forcing out yet another manager. The end of January seeing Lee Johnson on a run of only two defeats in the last 14 league matches and the club third in the table, yet sacked and replaced by Alex Neil, who performed miracles to take Sunderland from third to fifth in the table by the end of the season, the lottery of the play-offs this time going in the Mackems’ favour.

As for Newcastle United?

Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce continued on their path to relegation, a draw against Watford and defeat by Wolves meant the season had started with five defeats and three draws, with NUFC second bottom of the table and clearly looking doomed to meet the Mackems in the Championship, if Sunderland had indeed finally got their act together and would manage promotion.

However…five days after losing to Wolves and only fifteen days after I had wrote the article in question, something happened that would (eventually) change everything.

Mike Ashley finally handing the keys over to new Newcastle United owners and NUFC fans only having to endure Steve Bruce for one more match / defeat before he followed Ashley out of the door.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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