So Burnley departed the Premier with great grace, leaving a gift for the other strugglers by dumping Hull right in it. QPR capitulated at the Etihad and there`s just one relegation place left …
Let’s start with controversy. I don’t really want Newcastle United to go down, except if it’s instead of us. And I’ll be hoping for Boro to progress on Friday to the playoff final, followed by victory at Wembley.
Like almost anyone with family members scattered around the North East, I have Newcastle and Middlesbrough supporters among relatives and also friends.
But that’s not the reason; I cannot recall ever seriously sparing a sympathetic thought for my Mag cousin in Whitley Bay, or late uncles and aunts in Byker and Wallsend, or my sister’s Boro-born children when things have gone wrong for their teams.
I just take that boringly sensible North-eastern view and prefer it when all three of the region’s teams are together in the top flight. Simple as that really. It’s a great deal better, of course, when not only are all of them there, but we’re top dogs.
Things can still go horribly wrong for Sunderland. Having hauled ourselves back into as strong a position as we could properly hope for, we can still blow it against Leicester and have to rely on a sensational result at the Emirates or Stamford Bridge.
But for the first time in weeks, with whatever caution needs to be applied, I am moderately optimistic.
As Pete Sixsmith said in a brilliant report of his day out to Goodison: “No room for complacency – but I don’t think Dick Advocaat does complacency.”
The True Geordie’s latest rant, following the Mags’ stuttering 1-1 draw at home to WBA, is not his best but is still sheer class. I am not the only Sunderland fan to think so. Have a look and a laugh, provided industrial language does not offend you.
At one point he says, with expletives thinly disguised: “We deserve to go down without a f***** doubt and if we don’t it’ll just be by pure luck and by the fact that somebody was sh***er than us.”
More elegantly or not, we’ve said the same about own lot often enough, even if now they have restored a lot of pride and fought themselves to the brink or survival.
But see Comments. Some disagree sharply with me. The clip is still here but, to demonstrate the editor’s conciliatory approach, has been relegated to the bottom of the page.
As for the relegation battle, it may yet be close but I have a feeling another Newcastle fan, Steve Bruce, will be the saviour of the Wear-Tyne pair.
Spurs were dire at Stoke but will be expected by their own demanding fans to redeem themselves at White Hart Lane, however hard Hull fight like Tigers to beat them. Then, on the final day, Man Utd visit the KC stadium; this is not the United of old but I still fancy them to win.
I hope it doesn’t matter by then, for us at any rate. A win against Leicester and a draw or defeat the same day for Hull would save us. That’s the outcome I am desperately rooting for.
And let’s have some updating of the two polls: support for our own survival prospects is naturally rising but should now grow whoppingly to reflect our back-to-back wins. And Hull’s position in the new second poll – see above – must become a lot more precarious. The original version drew nearly 900 votes and I am afraid we were still ahead of all except QPR and Burnley before the weekend games. Only six per cent, now unrealistic, had opted for Hull among the three for the drop.
If you are thinking that means fans of the other clubs must be making mischief, you`ll be right.
So if you`re now feeling a lot more optimistic about Sunderland, you know what to do next …
Not forgetting the expansion of the survey to find out who Salut! Sunderland readers (who, don’t forget, may well again include supporters of the other six clubs) think will go down.