Middlesbrough 1-0 Sunderland: Five things we learned from a dreary Tees-Wear derby

Middlesbrough secured their second Tees-Wear derby victory of the season last night thanks to Martin de Roon's first-half goal, although the win is unlikely to do anything but prolong the inevitable as Boro and Sunderland both look set to drop down to the Championship next season.

Here are five things that we learned from what was ultimately a dreary Tees-Wear derby on Teesside.

Jordan Pickford is proving why he is Sunderland's most valuable asset

One positive that on Wearside at the moment is the progression of Jordan Pickford from the Academy of Light to now becoming one of the club's star players - and most valuable asset at 23-years-old.

The PFA Young Player of the Year nominee continued to impress despite his team-mates letting him down, with moments like his one-on-one save against Stewart Downing the sole reason why Sunderland have not been losing by more goals in recent weeks.

Whether the young goalkeeper will stay with his boyhood club in the Championship next season or whether he will move on to a Premier League side remains to be seen with clubs such as Everton and Manchester City reportedly interested in his services, but either way he will be Sunderland's most prized asset.

Likely bringing in upwards of £15 million in transfer fees if the club decide to cash in on Pickford, he would be a tough figure to replace between the sticks but may be sacrificed in favour of reshaping the squad as a whole.

The Black Cats are going down without a fight

It has been clear to see for some time now that Sunderland are resigned to spending the 2017/18 season playing Championship football, with all but Pickford and Jermain Defoe looking disinterested and showing a severe lack of commitment on the pitch.

Senior players have been repeatedly drumming home the point of not giving in and remaining up for the fight in pre-match interviews, but when the time comes to put those words into practice they fall embarrasingly short of the mark.

The fact that Sunderland's last win came in February's 4-0 thumping of Crystal Palace, coupled with last night's defeat to a Middlesbrough side who had not seen a league win in 2017 prior to the second Tees-Wear derby of the season shows exactly why they are heading for the drop.

Poor season for North-East football in the Premier League

Things looked so promising prior to the start of the 2016/17 season for Sunderland and Middlesbrough, with Sam Allardyce keeping the Wearsiders in the top-flight while Aitor Karanka had guided Boro back to the big time after an eight year absence with players such as former Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo and Champions League winning goalkeeper Victor Valdes joining the club ahead of the new season.

However, things haven't panned out as initially hoped for either side with the Black Cats spending almost the entire season in the bottom three while the Teessiders have not fared much better themselves despite deciding to sack Karanka late on in a last ditch attempt to survive the drop, although that seems to have failed.

With Newcastle set to be the only North-East team in the top-flight next season following their promotion from the Championship at the first-time of asking, it seems like it may be some time before fans see all three sides competing at the highest level again.

Victor Anichebe's dejection has been a familiar sight for both North-East teams this season.

Tees-Wear derby next season will ultimately mean much more in the Championship

With Sunderland and Middlesbrough both set to spend next season in the Championship barring any spectactular late survival bids, next season's Tees-Wear derbies will likely mean much more than last night's dead rubber did.

Both sides will be hoping that they can secure promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking, but as Boro know all too well that is easier said than done after their previous eight-year spell in the Championship.

As for Sunderland, their much talked about rebuilding operation will take more time than fans may hope and whether they decide to stick with David Moyes or not it is no secret that there will be a large amount of incomings and outgoings in terms of playing staff next season.

Moyes has much to do win over the fans if he stays next season

Moyes is certainly not a popular figure on Wearside at the moment, as the away fans' chants of 'We want Moyesy out' at the Riverside Stadium last night showed but despite this the Scotsman remains adamant that he will not walk away from the club as he feels he has a job to complete.

With club CEO Martin Bain's official line remaining that he and owner Ellis Short have confidence that Moyes is the man to rebuild the club, it seems that barring a sudden change of heart fans will have to put their grievances aside and get behind the manager as long as he remains at the helm.

Promotion at the first time of asking is a big ask and may well be out of Sunderland's reach with the deep seated issues the club have if past managers Gus Poyet and Paolo Di Canio are to be believed, but a competitive season in the Championship that shows signs of change will be a step towards winning the fans over for Moyes, that is assuming that it isn't already too late.

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