The headline, as William Boot would have said in Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, is correct up to a point. Peter Lynn, better known around here as Wrinkly Pete, has spent much of the season in front an imaginary crystal ball, predicting the outcome of each game and checking how it affects his once-firm belief that Sunderland would survive on 37 points.
While such a tally would mean winning six (of five plus two draws) of the remaining ties, at least Leicester didn’t mess up his calculations since he had us down to lose in any case. Here’s how Pete still thinks – prays? – we can still do it, with original predictions and the points target suitably amended ..
Apr 4 Leics (a) Lose. Leicester get the three points they need to avoid the drop, avoiding the shame that they would have suffered as relegated champions.
Reality: It gives me no pleasure to have got this result spot on. I was there and was pleasantly surprised at our overall performance. We fought well and should have been ahead but failed to score from a number of good chances when we were on top. Then, when we came under pressure after their rookie manager used two of his subs and our vastly experienced manager failed to use our subs until it was too late, we conceded. I don’t generally criticise managers as they make far fewer mistakes than players but this time…………
Cattermole was playing his first game in months and was clearly suffering. Moyes signalled to Anichebe to get ready but a further eight minutes elapsed, during which time one of their two subs scored. When Anichebe did come on, he held the ball up, giving others a breather and chance to regain shape.
I did enjoy the “slap ribbing” from their fans and our fans’ response “You’re not that special, we’ve won it six times”. I thought our fans were splendid, singing and cheering the team on right to the end and it was well reciprocated by the players who came across to us at the final whistle to show their appreciation.
Now, to the future. In recent times, in similar situations, we have dispensed with our manager(s) at this point and survived. I am not suggesting we should do the same or indeed need to. We are in deep trouble but it is not impossible to escape, just unlikely. I think that if we envisage O’Shea (for Denayer), Cattermole and Anichebe playing every game from now on and either Khazri or preferably Honeyman replacing the bereft-of-confidence Borini then there might just be another great escape. Bringing in Honeyman would allow Larsson to play on the right hand side where he is much better suited.
I have amended the remaining fixtures and results required as I outlined previously, after the Burnley home game.
WAS Apr 8 Man U (h) Lose. The shrinking violet that is Mourinho finally gets his team playing like Chelski and Ibrahimavich is unplayable. BUT NOW … Apr 9 Man U (h) Well, if Lord Murdoch can change the date to suit himself, I can change the result – Draw.
Apr 15 West Ham (h) Win. We get revenge with a 1-0 win in the 94th minute.
(TBA) 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.
WAS lose, before rearranged: NOW Apr 26 Boro (a) Win
Was Apr 29 Bournemouth (h) Lose. We have the jitters, with safety in sight, Bournemouth are by now already safe. NOW Apr 29 Bournemouth (h) Win.
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?
WAS: We survive with 37 points, the same total as last season.
IS< NOW/strong> We survive with 36 points, one fewer than I thought we would need and two more than David Moyes predicted we would need and thus he is given the freedom of the city!
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.
To have a look at what else we said about the Leicester defeat and what we’re starting to say about the Man Utd game, check out the home page ….