Who is going down? We all want to know and The Observer asked supporters of all the threatened clubs. See the full set of verdicts at http://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/feb/20/premier-league-battle-for-survival. Pete Sixsmith‘s thoughts have cheer-up value …
Sunderland, 19th, 23pts – Pete Sixsmith, SalutSunderland.com
The Observer: Are you going down?
Sixer: It’s a hard call. We’re in this position due to too many poor performances between August and January, and too many players who’ve had enough of constant struggle. But we also have some positives: our newish manager has given us some impetus by bringing in new faces who haven’t come to England to play in the second tier. On balance, I’ll back us to stay up. We’re well used to relegation battles.
Who has let you down?
Of the players brought in by Dick Advocaat and Lee Congerton, Jeremain Lens never really got going, Seb Coates is an honest plodder, Younès Kaboul has been injured (gasps of surprise from Tottenham fans) and Adam Matthews is playing the part of the Forgotten Man. Of those already there, Jack Rodwell has either been in the treatment room with Kaboul or out of the squad like Matthews, while Billy Jones has matched Coates plod for plod.
Is the manager to blame?
He’s not entirely blameless. He has made some poor team selections (three at the back at Goodison – lost 6-2) and some poor substitutions, but Sam has shown his mettle in the transfer window.
If the worst happens, would you bounce straight back?
We’d need to keep Allardyce and his January signings; we’d need a strong start to what is an exhausting programme; and we’d need a good satnav to take us to places we have not been to for a while.
What would you miss about the top flight?
There’s oh so much to miss … the Premier League theme music, the very high refereeing standards, the total lack of hyperbole …
And the bottom three, in order?
18. Swansea; 19. Norwich; 20. Villa