You read it here first that we were safe. At least, according to the BBC Predictor that Pete Sixsmith had been playing with. We still had to make his predicted results come true and did better than that by winnng at Bolton and not just drawing. But what about Wolves, tomorrow’s opponents? They’ve generated lots of nice thoughts by liking us as we like them, but Pete fears the worst …
I was back on the Predictor again this week after the latest batch of games. I tried to gauge the mood of a club as well as its current form and its desire and need to stay in the Premier League.
After a much improved performance at The Reebok last weekend, I am much more optimistic than I was the last time I did it. I now have us drawing with Wolves and winning at West Ham and that will have us finishing an eye watering eighth, three points above the Mags and six points away from Villa and Darren B£nt.
The bad news for our visitors on Saturday is that I think they will go down. I have them getting a draw at the Stadium and similar in their final game against Blackburn in what will be a loser goes down game. Two points will not be enough and they will be a point light.
They will be joined by West Ham (down on Sunday according to this oracle) and Blackpool who will beat Bolton but lose to SAF’s Reserves. They will be like Wolves, a point short of survival.
I take no pleasure in writing this. I have a lot of time for Mick McCarthy who is as genuine a person as has ever managed Sunderland. It seems incomprehensible that a team who have beaten three of the top four are likely to go down. But it’s their failures against the middle ranking teams, the Evertons Newcastles and Stokes of this world, that will do for them.
I now think that Wigan will wriggle free, which is good from our point of view as we always get lots of tickets for the visit to the Capital city of Pies; same with Blackburn, who also give us a healthy allocation and will escape by a point
We are the team with the destiny of two in our hands. I would hope that the gritty, determined Sunderland, who turned out at Bolton, pitch up on Saturday, rather than the supine mob that played in the last home humiliation. Bruce needs a good result in the final home game; if we surrender meekly, the discontent from the stands could convince the owner that a change is needed.
Some of the views of Mick are through rose tinted glasses, mind. He was criticised by a lot of fans, particularly in his first full season when we reached the FA Cup semi and the play offs – only to lose both. Crowds were not great in the promotion season and the likes of Whitley, Robinson and Kyle were not received well by Sunderland fans.
Even allowing for the lack of money when we went up, some of the players he brought in were bound to fail. Could anyone see a workhorse like Andy Gray cutting it at the top level? Me neither. He has done ok at Wolves, but if they go down it will be due to a lack of quality at the back and up front. In my view, he goes for quantity.
Stop press: Good news for Wolves fans. One of my students ( a Newcastle fan, but we’ll let that drop) has Wolves surviving. A draw at the Stadium and a draw against Blackburn doesn’t look good, but he has Blackpool and Wigan losing their last two games, so down they go along with West Ham.
Should Blackpool pull off a miracle and survive, Holloway may well get the Manager of the Year award. – and there is a good argument for giving it to him above Ferguson who has huge funds to play with and who can successfully rotate top class international players.
But for me, the manager of the year is John Coleman at Accrington Stanley. They are a club who are permanently skint, have tiny crowds and probably pay low wages. Despite this, they have made the Division Two Play-Offs and play open, attacking football. Coleman is a typical lower league manager who makes bricks out of straw and who can’t afford a gamble on South Americans who clearly won’t cut it in English football. Chances of winning the title – absolutely nil.