Leeds clash is attractive and steeped in controversy – but Sunderland must navigate old boy and Sheffield Wednesday first

Sunderland boss Simon Grayson.
Sunderland boss Simon Grayson.
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Sunderland’s difficult start to the season - fixture wise - continues when they play Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow night followed by one of our most attractive fixtures against Leeds United at home on Saturday.

Two tough games, but I’ve been impressed with the player’s attitude and desire and on the back of a win at Norwich, they will go to Hillsborough with confidence and crucially, so will the fans.

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

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When the players and supporters are all pulling together and on the same wavelength, it makes everything easier, so the aim for the next two games must be a win and a draw, minimum. If that happens we will be in a far better position than a lot of us anticipated.

Although the Owls haven’t made the start they would have liked, Hillsborough won’t be an easy place to go and a big threat is sure to be ex-Sunderland man Steven Fletcher, who will feel he has a point to prove.

Fletcher made a great start to his Sunderland career, finding the net seemingly at will, but after an injury his progress stalled and he didn’t develop the way I’d hoped he would but he still contributed to some great Derby Day wins with vital goals.

After the Sheffield Wednesday game comes an old rival to Wearside, when we host Leeds United and this is a fixture steeped in history and often controversy.

For older fans, this game will be a reminder of better days, not just the famous FA Cup glory in ‘73, but the ferocious rivalry the two clubs had back in the 60s.

Sunderland and Leeds were promoted together in the early 60s and while Leeds went on to lift trophies regularly, Sunderland never hit those heights but the rivalry never diminished, especially in cup games that have gone down in Wearside folklore.

Maybe the Sunderland-Leeds rivalry isn’t so heated these days, but it’s still a fixture I am looking forward to and as Leeds will bring a good following, it should create a lively atmosphere.

Leeds won their first away game at Bolton so won’t lack confidence especially as they surely know how poor Sunderland’s home record is with the last win in front of our own fans coming before Christmas – an abysmal run that needs to end quickly.

Sunderland have two games this week against teams expecting nothing less than a play-off spot and we will know a lot more about this new Sunderland team, and what our expectations should be, come Saturday night.