Sunderland have had plenty of heroes this season. In fact, what would make this survival so much more worthy of pride than the others is because this time we won't have relied on any other results - we'll have saved oursevles.
Adam Johnson and Connor Wickham have both delivered player of the month performances at huge times, Fabio Borini has been coolness personified from the spot, Vito Mannone has been smoulderingly sexy throughout, Lee Cattermole has been a warrior for the cause... it has been the unlikeliest set of heroes I can remember.
There has been one other player though who has apparently had a big positive bearing on the season - Seb Larsson. He is rarely heralded. In fact he earns more derision than acclaim, and we are as guilty of it as anyone.
It is perhaps fitting that the Swede had his moment in the spotlight by scoring the winner against Manchester United. He looks certain to leave on a Bosman this summer and it was a moment of personal appreciation he has probably deserved. Here is why:
- In the 17 games in which Larsson has NOT started for Sunderland this season (all comps), Sunderland have lost 76% of the time. The overall record is P17, W4, D0, L13.
- In the 30 games in which he HAS started, the record is very different. Sunderland have won more than they have lost, and lost less than a third of the games - P30, W12 (40%), D9 (30%), L9 (30%).
- In terms of the Premier League only, 29 of Sunderland's 35 points this season have been won in games Larsson started. The only exceptions were the wins at Fulham and Newcastle.
It's possible that we -- Roker Report very much included -- owe a big apology to Larsson. Sorry Seb.