Middlesbrough v Sunderland!

• Hit the auto-update button for the latest posts
• Send your thoughts to gregg.roughley@guardian.co.uk
Tweet Gregg too, if that's your thing

7.36pm: Apologies to Middlesbrough and Sunderland fans. But I'm going to have to abandon ship and cover the Fabio Capello news instead. A live blog will be on the site shortly.

7.29pm: Well, good old England eh? Adrian Chiles has just accused Fabio Capello of "abandoning" them.

THE REALLY BIG NEWS DEPARTMENT: Fabio Capello has resigned as England manager. Blimey!

7.23pm: It's still 0-0 between Mali and Ivory Coast in the second semi-final of the Africa Cup of Nations. Drogba just had a shot from the halfway line that landed about 40 yards behind the intended target. He gave it way too much biff. This is public service MBMing. Giving that bit extra. Emmerdale's just finished. I can't tell you what happened in that I'm afraid.

7.17pm: "Yes, I am excited," whoops Charles Marshall. "And of course Sunderland should win, but if you'd been a Sunderland fan as long as I have you'd learn not to be confident, especially against supposedly inferior teams in the Cup."

How do Sunderland feel about Boro, I wonder? Perhaps a reader will let me know. I imagine Boro fans get much more excited about playing Sunderland than the other way around. Not because Boro are insignificant, but because Sunderland's big rivals are Newcastle.


Middlesbrough: Steele, Hines, Hoyte, Bates, Bennett, McMahon,
Thomson, Rhys Williams, Arca, Main, Jutkiewicz.
Subs: Ripley, McManus, Emnes, Ogbeche, Martin, Reach, Smallwood.

Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Turner, O'Shea, Richardson,
Larsson, Colback, Gardner, McClean, Campbell, Sessegnon.
Subs: Westwood, Wickham, Ji, Meyler, Elmohamady, Lynch, Reed.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

So that's a pretty strong Sunderland team. O'Neill is not taking this competition lightly at all. James McClean starts in attack with Campbell. I wondered whether O'Neill would give Wickham a go tonight. McLean's impressed since being thrown in there but I thought he might be rested after his recent run of games.

Main does indeed start for Boro, in attack with Lucas Jutkiewicz.


Evening. So the two former Celtic managers meet again after the 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light just over a week ago. There've been a fair few injuries since then, mind. Both sides could be missing six or seven key players. There'll be no needless free-kicks given away by Lee Cattermole for Sunderland, which is a great shame. He always brings an element of class to this fixture. The Boro goalscorer, Barry Robson, is among those who is a doubt for the home team tonight, while the absence of strikers Scott McDonald and Marvin Emnes will give the 19-year-old goal-plundering reserve-team striker Curtis Main a chance.

"He is almost up to a goal-a-game ratio – he is doing OK," shrugged Mowbray, making Main's 1:1 record sound almost disappointing. The use of adjectives beginning with R best describe his style: rough, raw, rapid, erm, rabid – blimey I've got myself into a bind here – what about rapacious? Anyway, he's a physical lad, a bit like Connor Wickham, who may play up front for Sunderland with Fraizer Campbell. The last player I can remember having a one in one reserve-team record was Neil Mellor at Liverpool so the future looks bright for … Oh.

These two have met before in the fourth-round of the FA Cup. Boro won that one playing some nifty football with Graeme Souness running the show on an Ayresome Park pitch that wouldn't be deemed fit for growing cabbages on these days. Here it is in its retro glory played out in an atmosphere that was worthy of a tournament that used to be loved much more than it is today. Poor old FA Cup.

Arsenal await the winner in the fifth round. I expect that team to be Sunderland. I just can't see Middlesbrough winning with the injuries they have picked up and their recent form is a bit shabby too. That's not to say Mowbray's not doing a good job. He's doing OK.

Expect below-strength teams in below-zero temperatures. What? You're not excited?

Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-2 Sunderland (Fraizer Campbell will score again)

comments powered by Disqus