Writer: Michael Coverdale
Date:Tuesday May 19 2009
Few Sunderland fans truly believed going into Monday`s clash with Portsmouth that the impending result would allow them to have a nice relaxing final weekend of the season. Many a Sunderland fan will have dreamed of a tranquil final day of the season, as they watched arch rivals Newcastle go to Villa Park needing a result to stay up.
However, such realists as Sunderland fans have learned to be in recent years; that was never meant to be, as the club finds itself very much embroiled in the relegation scrap on the last day of the season. The players now face the unenviable task of needing a win at home to the in form Chelsea to secure Premier league safety for one more season at least.
It is not that Sunderland fans have lost faith in the team`s ability; it seems rather that the team has lost faith in itself.
Following the departure of Keane, the players led the fans to believe that they were now able to really express themselves on the field, no longer afraid of what may be in store for them had they made a mistake in front of Keane.
However , the players now given enough license to express themselves 'to their hearts content` under Sbragia; now seem to have realised, that maybe they did not have all that talent that they once believed Keane was making them withhold.
For Sunderland fans, the final day of the season will be one of watching the results of their rivals in hope that the two below will not accumulate enough points to overtake them in the league, rather than hoping for a win against Chelsea. Both teams need a win in order for Sunderland to go down and Sunderland fans will hope the bookies are right with this being seen as a real outside chance, with odds currently at 8/1.
However, with Sunderland fans permanently reminded by their fierce rivals up the road of their apparent inferiority; it would be no surprise to them to see a fourth relegation from the world`s best league, leading to another summer of ridicule from them up the road.
If Sunderland do somehow manage to stumble over the line and secure their Premiership status, it would be a safe bet to say that manager Ricky Sbragia will receive a pat on the back, and the rest of his 18 month salary paid up in full, with Chairman Niall Quinn then going on a real search to find an adequate replacement for Roy Keane.
Date:Tuesday May 19 2009
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