After a season devoid of impact or excitement, Sunderland are in the relatively unusual position of having a major say in who else goes down – and a glance at the odds at 10bet homepage suggests the bookies don’t expect us to stand in Swansea’s way on Saturday.
Our rare win at the weekend, with goals from Billy Jones and Jermain Defoe to beat Hull, did the Swans a power of good. But they were also doing what we used to do when we took survival battles more seriously: they won an important game of their own.
Another empty weekend unless you’re a groundhopper like Sixer or a local league fan like Malcolm, which means it’s time for a relegation review. With six games to go in a compressed framework and a holiday coming up this is probably the last one I’ll be able to fit in.
It has been a long and tedious season (as have been the last four apart from that trip to Wembley, only three years ago although it seems like a lifetime, those six wins in a row, a sequence of wins against Citeh and wins at places like Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge *[see below]) and while some of our chosen teams have reached safety we haven’t and are still awaiting a conclusion.
And according to my calculations, as if you needed them, that conclusion isn’t good for us.
This arrived ‘in the post’ as an entry in Guess the Score for SAFC vs Manchester City and before today’s rather depressing run of scores elsewhere. The author, Tom Lynn, is not just another disgruntled fan – he’s part of the life and soul of the Sunderland fan base, a man you bump into home and away and former editor of The Wearside Roar. He went for SAFC 0-4 City and also described the ‘hype around Pickford’ as ridiculous, calling him a great shotstopper with no real command of his area. Monsieur Salut does not agree with every word but it’s written from the heart and deserves to be seen ..
After the great win at Crystal Palace was followed by a crushing home defeat to Southampton, Sunderland fans typically divided into two familiar camps: loyal belief in another great escape and, inevitably, grim resignation. Alex McMahon tries to see positives despite an underwhelming transfer window and the failure to build on the Palace result …
When I last reported in with the Salut Sunderland relegation watch we had had some recent wins but were still in the relegation zone, along with Swansea and Hull. (Swansea weren’t one of the clubs chosen in our start-of season poll but I included them in December on the grounds that some people did vote for “another club” and they had begun to fit that bill after a decline).
That was just before Christmas, not long before the transfer window opened, and just around the time struggling clubs might decide a new manager might help them take advantage of it. Now, with all that business done (free agents notwithstanding) it’s time to take stock before we head to the end of season crunch games, six pointers and desperation sackings that define the struggle for 39 points.
Wrinkly Pete alluded to my dodgy numbers in his post earlier in the week so here’s an overview on our performance to date, along with that of the clubs named in the headline, which were chosen by a free and democratic poll at the start of the season. I’m keeping it brief – only a quick trip to set the scene for a “before and after” post early in the new year, and I’ve included Swansea this time, on the grounds that some people did vote for “another club” and they fit the bill, being as it were, eleven Swans a sinking
It came out of the blue. A message from a Twitter user plugging Heristage, ‘the only French-language site dedicated to English football’. The message directed me to a long and superbly detailed analysis (in French but at this link) of Sunderland AFC’s ‘Bank of England’ era, that period of the 1950s that older supporters identify as the trigger for our decline.
Heristage turned out to be the work of Rémi Carlu*, a young, half-French/half-English lover of the game as played here, the country of his mother. He’s currently studying back in the UK and happily agreed to explain himself. Rémi doesn’t support Sunderland – he favours Chelsea (mmm…) – but cares enough about his chosen project to have researched us thoroughly; he also thinks, I’m afraid, that we should accept relegation in return for rebuild …
But all his views are fascinating, all the more so coming from a semi-outsider. I commend this to you as a great read …
During the close season we gave readers the opportunity to select their relegation favourites from the entire Premier league. Then we asked readers to select three candidates from the eight clubs which came top.
By the season’s start some 3,500 votes had been cast in our relegation poll
Hull were firm favourites to go down, with Burnley and Sunderland giving the North a full house. Watford weren’t far behind Sunderland, then came ‘Boro, Bournemouth and West Brom, followed by one hundred votes for “another club”and finally Crystal Palace, whose 67 votes (we got three times as many to become third favourites) must surely mean safety for them.