How Sunderland became the unlikely grudge match

In normal circumstances, a club from the North East would not be circled on the calendar when the fixtures are announced. However, this season was not a normal circumstance. As is customary, the bigger fish to fry were the fixtures that immediately caught the United eye- the City’s, the Liverpool’s, Chelsea’s. So how did Sunderland join that elite bracket of grudge matches?

Over the Premier League years, United and Sunderland have not been considered as natural ‘rivals’. In fact, relations between the two clubs have smooth and hardly fractious. There are many connections between the two clubs- Dwight Yorke, Danny Simpson, Jonny Evans, Phil Bardsley, Kieran Richardson, John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Fraizer Campbell and Louis Saha have all appeared for both clubs. They even employed our former momentous captain, Roy Keane as their manager, Ricky Sbragia ensured their survival to maintain the fixture between the two, having spent time as a coach at United in his earlier days.

But last season was the tipping point.

We all know what happened so forgive me for skipping over those horrid details. But the manner in which they celebrated our demise that day, when their team had an average season at best was classless.

Both the manager and Wayne Rooney in particular were significantly overt in their damning assessment of the events at the Stadium of Light last season.

On the eve of the home fixture between the two in December, snippets of Rooney’s autobiography were flooded all over the national broadsheets saying: “I don’t know whether I will play the previous games before it, I just want to play against Sunderland.

“When the fixtures come out I look for three games — City, Liverpool and Everton. This time I checked the Sunderland game. If there is one team that I want to beat this season it will be Sunderland.

“When the final whistle went, we didn’t really know what the score at City was.

“But then we heard the Sunderland fans cheering. It was sad to see because they should be supporting their own team really. They didn’t have the best of seasons so for them to be cheering like that was sad. It was something myself and a lot of the players won’t forget.”

Ferguson was equally condemning when quizzed on their fans’ reaction: “What their fans did was disappointing when you think of the number of players we’ve given Sunderland. We gave them the players that got them promoted, Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson. But that’s fans, isn’t it?”

United exacted their first instalment of the revenge act in December by comfortably beating them 3-1- goals from Robin Van Persie, Tom Cleverley and Wayne Rooney, before one of those ex-reds Fraizer Campbell headed a consolation.

It promises to be a fiery occasion and a red-hot atmosphere. We have the huge incentive of going 18 points clear before the blue lot host Newcastle. After what happened last season, our travelling brigade owe it upon themselves to make some serious noise (this will be guaranteed, our away support is fantastic) and be the 12th man in helping complete the double on them this season.

Sir Alex Ferguson is well-known for his motivating skills and all-powerful management, what better way to sign off than this clear statement of intent to tomorrow’s opponents?

More Stories Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson Sunderland Wayne Rooney


  1. Get a life. A few of our fans give you stick and you can’t handle it. We get the piss taken out of us constantly and lose a lot but we still follow our team religiously. You’ll win anyway like you do most games because the opposition have surrendered before they leave the tunnel. Very few clubs believe that they’ll beat you and they just roll over. That’s what our team will do tomorrow so all this bullshit about revenge really worries Sunderland fans NOT. We are looking forward to games we might win, not tomorrow’s game. We even did you a favour by beating City for you so 3 points of your lead is down to us. Show some gratitude you wallies.

  2. @bigphil: You want gratitude after childishly celebrating another club’s success at our displeasure despite the amount of players we have sold to you down the years? Doesn’t work that way, and I for one, would love to see you lot sent down. Hopefully with Steven Fletcher’s injury, Sunderland will go tits up along with QPR.

  3. Pretty typical of the mackems actually. The club who’s only ambitions are to finish higher than Newcastle, the club who’s fans look to see if Newcastle lose before they even check their own score.
    Go on a lot of the north east boards and you will see their borderline obsession with Newcastle..
    Hope you beat them comfortably and send them towards the level that that classless little club belong at – the championship.

  4. I wish sunderland should be relegated at the end of this current season,due to their fans attitudes towards last season foolishness chanting despite their poor performances for the whole season. We are Manchester Unitd but not Man.U. Manchester United till death do us apart.

  5. Man U fans and players are a bit too precious
    MUFC fans took the p*^# when we were relegated(again) years ago on the last day of the season and no one battered an eyelid
    Yes ,you will win this weekend against us….nowt new…
    Get over it

  6. As a loyal Newcastle fan, I understand both sides. Watching a club with no history of rivalry or enmity celebrate our demise (e.g., Villa) is absolutely enraging. And yet, it’s a sign of true weakness for Manchester United fans to drum up anger against the SMBs. You have all the money, the glory, and control of your destiny. To blame Sunderland for enjoying a rare bright spot is Myopic. Until you’ve been through the true, hellish shit-storm of a relegation battle, you’ll never know the loyalty held by the followers of any Northeast club.

    Still hope you win 🙂

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