What The Gaffer Said
There have been times this season when I've questioned Sam Allardyce, but since the end of the January window his management of our football club has been absolutely extraordinary, and achieving safety in the style that we did last night must have been the cherry on top of the cake for the big fella.
3-0! Three set pieces – two corners and a free kick – I think we could have had many more, but there was some good goalkeeping to keep it at 3-0 and just as important as the goals was the clean-sheet at the other end.
The turn of the year was a real eye opener for me, how we turned around the season since then we became a lot more resilient, a lot tougher and we showed a lot more quality and we stuck together as a team.
Jermain Defoe’s goals have made a huge difference to our season, we’re now on 37 games and 38 points and for the first time since I’ve been here we’ve got more points than we’ve had games!
I’ve always said 38 points would do it and it has and now we’ve got a lovely trip to Watford to look forward to and we can relax and play a game of football that won’t be anywhere near as intense as our last few.
I didn’t envisage winning 3-0 tonight, I thought it would be tight but after the first goal we were fantastic, the lads were so confident and it just relieved the pressure from everybody.
The fans were able to enjoy the last 10 minutes because they knew we’d finally made it.
The feeling you get when the fans cheer you and you hit that wall of atmosphere makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck – it spurs you on to play well and it makes you love the game.
We’re finishing the season on a high and now we’ve got to make sure we start next season on a high! That’s what I want to see.
Sunderland have done this for the last few years, the optimism we see tonight has got to become a reality and we need to start where we’re leaving off. There will be a lot of hard work needed and lots of planning but we’ll do our best.
The players are fighting and playing for him, a togetherness not many sides in this league possess. That said, I don't think even Sam could have envisaged just how easy Everton made it for us.
One thing that Leicester City have shown this season is that money does not buy you the will to win and togetherness, characteristics I feel we've seen in Sunderland's side since Sam Allardyce took the decision to majorly reshape his squad in the January window.
He got rid of players with rank attitudes, he brought in people he knew would work hard and add quality to our side and he has consistently stressed throughout this time that we were not going down without a fight. Can the same be said of sides like Newcastle and Aston Villa, who have flitted away without so much as a whimper?
No. You can't buy what we have and that is heart, desire, team spirit and an untouchable work ethic.
We have to carry that into next season. The sky's the limit as far as I am concerned. I do not want another relegation battle, thank you very much.
Isn't it a beautiful feeling knowing we are safe?
I hope everyone going down to Watford at the weekend has the time of their lives, and that the players give another side a good tonking to see the season out for another sell-out away support.
I hope this means we might give game time to some of the other players who have been unfortunate not to get into the side. John O'Shea may very well play his last game for the club, who knows, whilst Duncan Watmore and Sebastian Larsson have certainly played their part in our route to survival, even if they haven't been starting games.
The SOL Was Rocking...
We - and ALS - asked everyone to bring it to the Stadium of Light last night and I'd like to hope even a few people listened. It was nice to see red and white shirts, scarves and flags everywhere and from start to finish the support was fantastic.
What the last two home games have shown is that we ARE a special club, we ARE better than just a team that battles relegation, and that we CAN be so much better if the right people at the top and bottom of the club are in place.
For the first time in a long time the fan base, the players and the management are all on the same page. Going forward, this will make such a huge difference.
We even managed to move Younes Kaboul to tears, and I don't think he's a man that cries very often. Jermain Defoe too. Who would have thought it? These are passionate players that have given their all for Sunderland in this run in, and they deserve all the credit in the world.
Sunderland gets under your skin when you least expect it.