When the two teams met at the Stadium of Light back in October, Sunderland were 19th and Barnsley were 20th, well since that game we have moved up one place whilst you have surged into automatic promotion contention!
Is it all down to Roy Keane?
I believe it's mostly down to Keano. After all, he is the one who has bought the players that have turned the side around. He is also the one that gets the players beating the likes of Derby and West Brom twice in a season. As well as beating Birmingham until the last kick of the game!
Are there now realisitic murmorings from the fans that Sunderland could bounce straight back into the Premiership. Back in October you felt you would be lucky to reach the playoffs because of a poor defence, has the defence been tighened then?
With the arrival of Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson on loan from Man Utd, and the resurgence of Nyron Nosworthy in the centre of defence, our defensive record has simply been class since the turn of the year. Of course there are calls that we can get promoted immediately - realistic ones. We have a great chance of winning the league or finishing second - but we're not going to get carried away since we're doing much, much better than everyone expected.
If this happens are you confident Keane can ensure that you dont fail as horribly as last season?
The squad we have now is at least 10x better than last season's. If we can keep Jonny Evans on loan for another season, that would be a great help since he is one of the brightest young prospects in football today. Danny Simpson - another great defender - has expressed his desire to stay at Sunderland. I have spoken with him and can assure everyone, he is a great guy. Our strike force should be able to cope with the Premiership but we shouldn't have any problem attracting new signings because the management of the club being one of the most respected in the world. Keane's tactics have proven over and over again to be first class and I firmly believe we will remain a Premiership side - if we get there.
You thought Barnsley would be "scraping around the relegation place" when we spoke in October, do you reckon we can stay up?
Well the relegation fight is just as close as the fight for promotion at the top so I think Barnsley have every chance of escaping the drop. I think Leeds are all but doomed - the worst team in the league. When we played Southend they didn't even turn up! So there's 2 teams worse than Barnsley at least...
And finally a score for Saturday?
We're on a great run at the moment but the games against the lower sides are usually always the hardest and we will have to guard against complacency. Having said that, I still think our side will come out on top. Barnsley 1-3 Sunderland.
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