Sunderland Survival Would Be Greatest Escape


Jose Mourinho and Chelsea will probably take most of the headlines today, as Chelsea worked on a game plan and succeed in derailing Liverpool’s immediate title party plans.

But another man well associated with Chelsea will wake up this morning with a huge grin on his face. That man will be Sunderland boss Gus Poyet.

At the start of the month after seeing his outfit lose 5-1 to Tottenham, Poyet declared ‘we need a miracle’ when talking about surviving in the Premier League beyond this season.

But the miracle seems to be happening. In the last three fixtures Sunderland have managed a 1-1 draw with Man City at the Etihad, they beat Chelsea 2-1 in London and thrashed fellow relegation candidates Cardiff City 4-0 at the Stadium of Light.

When the Uruguayan took over in October things already looked extremely bleak. Paolo Di Canio has mismanaged the club and the players were at an all time low when it came to confidence. Last summers transfer window brought in an array of ordinary talent with one or two decent exceptions.

Poyet slowly but surely brought back a bit of self belief. Within his first month at the helm he saw his side beat Newcastle, Southampton (league cup) and Man City (yes they’ve done the double over City).

The Sunderland squad would go on and defeat Chelsea and Man Utd on the way to a League Cup final, where they would lose out to Man City. That cup run seemed to be the clubs only real highlight to the season as they struggled to make to many in-roads in the league and always flirted with the bottom of the table.

In March the side looked doomed as they only picked up one draw in four league matches. Then two defeats in early April followed.

But instead of throwing in the towel, Poyet and his players have pulled their socks up and battled on. To their credit that never say die attitude has now seen them climb out of the bottom three. In their remaining three games they have a tough game with Man United at Old Trafford but then have two winnable home ties against WBA and Swansea. A win in any of these games could be enough to secure Premier League football for another year. Four points will probably make sure of it.

That has all been done when they have missed Steven Fletcher for most of the season due to a lack of form and injuries. Poyet has managed to get the best out of Fabio Borini as the Italian has shone on more than a few occasions, especially in the big games.

The reemergence of Connor Wickham might have seemed a desperate last throw of the dice but the twenty-one year old has repaid his managers faith by grabbing five goals in his last three appearances. The England under-21 international seemed to be on his way to having a career in the Championship and never fulfilling his potential. But now the former Ipswich forward looks like he might just have the ability to do well in England’s top flight after all.

When Kieran Westwood suffered a serious shoulder injury back in November, Sunderland fans shuddered at the thought of Italian Vito Mannone getting a prolonged stay in the first team. He has that air about him that suggests he is a number two goalie but he has has step up to the plate and handled himself well in his debut season at Wearside. So much so that he earned the Sunderland player of the year award.

In Adam Johnson and Emmanuele Giaccherini, Sunderland have a couple of magicians that can open up most teams. But these talented players need to do it more often, if they can turn in a magnificent performance in one of these remaining games of this season then that should ensure a fine end to the campaign.

Of course Gus Poyet deserves a huge amount of credit for giving Sunderland this fighting chance. For a large chunk of this term they have looked doomed but he has now managed to keep their destiny in their own hands. But should he manage to stave off relegation this season then Sunderland as a club need to have a long hard look at themselves. It has still been a mediocre season at best in terms of their league form. The club will still need to have a big overhaul.

Another pathetic summer from Sunderland in the transfer market and then they will once again be in the same trouble next year. But hopefully miracle man Gus Poyet can be given the funds that can get them back up the table and away from the relegation zone.

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