Peter Lynn dips back into his collection of dodgy old hits for inspiration as he does some back-of-envelope calculations on what David Moyes needs from the second half of the season if Sunderland are yet again to avoid the drop. He even allows for the unthinkable, losing at home to Stoke on Saturday , as he steers us to safety…
I’m sending out an SOS, ‘cos I’m in so much distress
So sang Edwin Starr on his hit Stop Her On Sight and I am hoping that I will not feel the same as I begin my four-hour drive home, post match on Saturday.
If David Moyes, pre-match on Saturday, can get his team to realise that this is War, another of Starr’s hits, then we might get a win and make a further small (?) step towards safety.
Just in case, and assuming we get no points from the Stoke game, I set out below my personal plan for what we will then need to achieve, game by game, to avoid relegation. This, of course, does assume that those teams presently languishing at the bottom with us do not exceed our own achievements.
Jan 21 WBA (a) Draw. A tough demand at a ground where we traditionally don’t do terribly well.
Jan 31 Spurs (h) Win. Spurs will have played in the FA Cup 4th round a few days previously, we will have rested, having lost the upcoming Burnley replay.
Feb 4 Palace (a) Draw. Big Sam will still be struggling to improve things.
Feb 11 So’ton (h) Lose. In typical SAFC fashion, one we should win we don’t.
Feb 25 Everton (a) Draw. We bounce back. Well, a partial bounce.
Mar 4 Man C (h) Win. The crowd inspire an unlikely victory.
Mar 11 Boro (a) Lose. As with the Southampton game, we fail to maintain a revival.
Mar 18 Burnley (h) Win. Burnley are distracted by their forthcoming FA cup semi-final appearance.
Apr 1 Watford (a) Draw. A battling performance by Cattermole on his comeback from injury inspires the rest of the team to a 0-0 result.
Apr 4 Leicester (a) Lose. Leicester get the three points they need to avoid the drop, avoiding the shame that they would have suffered as relegated champions.
Apr 8 Man U (h) Lose. The shrinking violet that is Mourinho finally gets his team performing like Chelski and Ibrahimavich is unplayable.
Apr 15 West Ham (h) Win. We get revenge with a 1-0 win in the 94th minute.
Apr 22 Arsenal (a) Lose. Miffed at not being in the FA Cup semi-final, The Gunners take it out on us, with the four foot tall Sanchez getting a hat trick of headed goals.
Apr 29 Bournemouth (h) Lose. We have the jitters, with safety in sight, Bournemouth are by now already safe.
May 6 Hull (a) Win. Hull become our Norwich of last season as we secure their relegation.
May 13 Swansea (h) Win. Swansea, who are already down, give in to allow us to escape again.
May 21 Chelsea (a) Lose. Who cares?
We survive with 37 points, the same total as last season.
As if I could care less, Palace are also relegated. This, then, is Big Sam’s first relegation and completes a miserable season for him personally.
Ha’way the Lads.
Catch up on Salut! Sunderland’s buildup to Sunderland vs Stoke:
** Stoke City ‘Who are You?’. A truly exceptional football character, Neil Baldwin – Nello the Clown, Macari’s star kit man, inspiration for the film Marvellous – tells us of his Stoke passion, his admiration of David Moyes (‘like me, a man of faith’) and his dismay at Big Sam’s comeback. Click anywhere on this paragraph to read the interview.