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Peter Reid first experienced it in early 2002, Roy Keane in early 2008, the likes of Wilkinson, McCarthy & Sbragia throughout their reigns and Steve Bruce may be about to experience it himself over the next weeks and months. I'm talking about big pressure . The reason? Our wretched away form, which since the superb draw at Old Trafford has gotten steadily worse. The first half performance at Fulham on Sunday was bordering on shambolic at times and if it wasn't for a much, much improved second half the scoreline could have become embarrassing. In my opinion the main reason for this is the unsettled defence. Away from home it has looked nervy and liable to concede early. Do this away from home in the Premier League and you struggle to get back in the game. There have been changes all season due to injuries and suspension but we must settle on a consistent back four if we want to progress from strugglers to a decent established mid-table team.

Back at home though for a double header against Portsmouth & Aston Villa. We should be aiming for 4 points minimum from these two but a win against Pompey is essential with a set of fixtures to come in which we don't traditionally get much from. I was a little disappointed with the performance of Kenwyne Jones on Sunday, but he probably needed the run out and we should see more of a threat from him at the SoL this week. The main worry is defensively though, we have injury worries over Mensah & McCartney whilst Bardsley & Richardson are suspended after picking up their 5th yellow card at Craven Cottage. That leaves us with possibly only Turner, Da Silva & Nosworthy as recognised defenders. Will Cana have to fill in again? With Portsmouth boosted by last weeks win at home to Burnley and Aston Villa on fine form, its going to be a nervous few games I feel.

Predictions: SAFC 1 Portsmouth 1
SAFC 2 Aston Villa 2


Barrow beat Oxford in their second round replay this week, handing them a trip to the SoL in the new year. Another fantastic day out for their fans after their trip to Middlesbrough earlier this year. They took 7000 fans there so I'm expecting around the same at our place. I sit in the South East corner so I'll have to shift seats, but it should make for a fantastic atmosphere and I hope our fans turn up in their numbers too. Which brings me to the pricing for this match. 15 for adults is a bit steep I feel. Yes I know unless both clubs agree to a lower price it's 15 minimum, but that isn't going to to attract the occasional attendee for a game against a non-league team. 10 or even 5 would be ideal and keep the attendance considerably higher.


I've lived over here on Tyneside for 2 years now (I'm not sure if that means I'm an exile!) and one thing I really miss is the good old Sunlun Echo. There's nothing better than flicking through the Echo whilst having your tea after work to catch up on all things SAFC and the local news. I still do get to read it now and again on a visit to the parents but its a shame you can't get it delivered over here as I probably would pay for it!

Its amazing how much you miss Graeme Anderson and Lawsy after a while away.


We've this week launched the vitalsunderland twitter page. Follow us at

That's all for now,

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Paul Wallis Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday December 9 2009

Time: 9:13PM


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