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Who, or what, do you blame for Sunderland’s slump in form?

HE’S only been a Black Cat for 10 weeks – but David Miliband has already used up eight of his nine lives.

Since the South Shields MP joined the board at Sunderland AFC on February 1, the club’s first team has not won a single match.

In the eight games since the former foreign secretary arrived as non-executive chairman, the team has lost seven times and picked up only one draw, away at Arsenal.

The poor run of results has seen the Black Cats plunge to 13th in the Premier League, and a win at Birmingham City tomorrow is needed to stave off the threat of relegation.

But despite the club’s poor form, Sunderland fans say Mr Miliband is not to blame, and remain convinced that he will be a great ambassador in his role to promote the club on the world stage.

Fred Taylor, chairman of the Boldon branch of the Sunderland Supporters’ Association, said: “David Miliband is not responsible for the bad run. I think he can be a great asset to the football club for what he knows and who he knows.

“His role is off the pitch, and I don’t think players are affected by political goings-on off the field.

“It’s just coincidental that the poor form has happened since Mr Miliband arrived.”

The 51 year-old, of Church View, Boldon, said injuries and suspensions were the main reasons behind the alarming dip in form.

Martyn McFadden, editor of Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme, has an altogether different theory.

On the same day as Mr Miliband arrived, the club’s supporters introduced a giant flag which is paraded around the stadium before kick-off at home matches.

He said: “We brought the flag in for the Chelsea game on February 1. Obviously since then we haven’t won. Maybe we need to fly the flag in a different direction, or start at a different place in the stadium to break the sequence of results.”

Mr McFadden added: “If David Miliband was a centre forward, then you could blame him. There are a number of reasons why things haven’t worked out on the pitch, with players picking up injuries and key players losing form.

“We have also lost out top goalscorer in Darren Bent, and it has put pressure on some of the younger players. All of this seems to have happened at once, but it’s certainly not David Miliband’s fault.”

The giant matchday flag at the Stadium of Light was created by supporters’ group Haway the Flags. For more information visit www.hawaytheflags.co.uk