Middlesbrough have everything to lose in their Tees-Wear derby fixture with Sunderland at The Riverside Stadium this afternoon.
Boro’s opponents are a club in crisis with no manager and now bottom of the Sky Bet Championship table. Very few expect anything other than a victory from Garry Monk’s men on Teesside.
Sunderland sacked former boss Simon Grayson following a dismal 3-3 draw with fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers at The Stadium of Light in midweek after just four months in the job and caretakers Billy McKinlay and Robbie Stockdale must try to cause a huge upset against Boro.
Bolton Wanderers’ 2-1 victory over Norwich City on Saturday afternoon saw The Trotters leapfrog Sunderland to leave them bottom of the table and they go into the fixture with Boro not expected to get a result.
Middlesbrough’s recent record against Sunderland is a good one. Last season Boro did the double over The Black Cats despite struggling on their return to the English Premier League and the fans are used to beating their local rivals.
If Monk’s men are to chase an immediate return to the top flight this season, they need to be winning both games at home and their big matches. Victory over Sunderland is a must, it would keep Boro’s fans very happy while the club would chalk up a third consecutive league win.