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The Butterfly Effect of the Relegation Battle

Another Premier League season draws to a close with us characteristically stuck in the relegation mire, with shards of quality only just starting to emerge in our side - painting an even more classically Sunderland picture, writes Alex McCain.

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Trapped in the abyss with us are – as you most likely know – Norwich City and our dear friends Newcastle United. As results sway in favour of one team and seemingly condemn another, pundits and social media enthusiasts alike reel off reason after reason of why one team is safe, and other’s aren’t.

There’s never really any consistency to this, just a few weeks ago Norwich were seemingly about to execute a Sunderland side, who would – as the script would have it – pay the ultimate price for squandering victories and give Norwich the result they needed at Carrow Road.

Cue the capitulation of the canaries at their own nest, and suddenly Sunderland were about to perform their annual great escape once again. All the while, however, Newcastle were building up momentum in the background. Fast forward to the present moment, and it’s all about the heroics of Rafa Benitez, and the prestige he entails.

What point am I trying to make in this? This particular relegation plight that we find ourselves in is absolute chaos, it’s so open-ended that literally anything could happen.

Compare our situation to the weather. Tomorrow when we take on Chelsea, we could be predicted the gloomy skies of a 0-1 loss, but one little thing in an array of variables could change and next thing you know it’s the heat wave of an invaluable win.

Some might object to this by pointing to the fact that the run-in of our relegation rivals involves a series of teams with seemingly "nothing to play for", as the cliché goes. What those fail to realise is that there’s no team in any of the three teams’ run-ins that actually have anything worthwhile to play for. That essentially puts Sunderland, Newcastle and Norwich on more or less the same footing.

Ultimately, it’s going to come right down to the wire, and could prove to be one of the most tenacious relegation battles the top-flight has ever seen.

The team that prevails will no doubt require drive and quality to dispatch it’s remaining opposition – but a glimmer of good fortune will no doubt play it’s part in the end. One flap of a butterfly’s wings and the whole weather changes.