Last weekend’s 88th minute loss to Bournemouth confirmed Sunderland’s relegation after a tumultuous 10 year stay in the Premier League.
Relegation with games still to play is a bitter pill to swallow - what motivates the players to perform now if the club’s future is already decided? Will they be determined to generate momentum ahead of pre-season, inspired by their manager to repair relationships with the fans? Or will they be busting a gut in order to put themselves in the shop window? It’s a tricky situation to gauge.
Guy Mowbray noted on the BBC website that:
Hull this week, Swansea next. Sunderland might be down already but they could play a big part in who goes with them.
After the furore surrounding Championship play-off hopefuls Huddersfield's team selection last week, David Moyes' plans for the remaining games will be interesting.
Wouldn't Sunderland's best interests be served by a line-up of those players most likely to still be at the club next season? Moyes says he will be.
He brings up some intriguing questions, just who will Sunderland pick? Will they give youngsters a chance, or will they plump for the same old side who’ve served up so much dross this season?
On the other hand, Mowbray went on to emphasise just how much this game will mean to Hull:
Hull must simply do what they've done in six of the seven Premier League home games under Marco Silva. They must win. They MUST win - before watching Swansea versus Everton, cheering the Toffees.
If they get the points to keep them in the top flight, keeping Silva would then be the challenge.
Sunderland will have to show some fight to overcome this resurgent Hull side in order to restore some pride to the club.
As aforementioned, Hull will be desperate to clinch 3 points at home when they play the worst side in the league this weekend, and they certainly come into the game as solid favourites.
After doing a Sunderland, so to speak, and hiring a manager tasked with keeping the club in the Premier League, Hull have a great opportunity to avoid the drop after taking 19 points from a possible 21 at home since Marco Silva joined back in January. Sunderland hold the potential fate of the Humberside club in their grasp and a crushing defeat may break the hearts of our Northern neighbours, but it would demonstrate to the Mackem faithful that this club isn’t sinking without a fight.
We aren’t holding our breath by any means, but this genuinely would be a great game to start to rebuild bridges that have been seriously damaged this season. The fans need something to cling on to, something to ease our worries, something to cheer about. Poor results and a lack of clarity have hurt us; they have prevented any form of hope from being cultured this season, and ultimately this is something the club need to try and rectify as soon as possible.
I've seen calls for Moyes to ‘throw in the youngsters’ from many fans; however, I don’t think that would be a particularly wise move. Yes both Honeyman and Gooch perhaps deserve a real opportunity to prove their worth, but to throw the likes of Joel Asoro and co. into a situation like this might not necessarily be such a good move. IF we do take the lead and look good value for it, then I see no reason why the likes of Elliot Embleton and Ethan Robson shouldn’t be given 40 minutes or so to impress, but realistically we haven’t been in the situation to give them an opportunity, and we probably won’t be again this weekend.
That being said, Moyes did mention that now is the time to start some preparation ahead of next season, so perhaps we will see some fringe players given an opportunity to shine.
I've got a four-year contract and I'll be Sunderland manager next season.
I know what needs to be done to get back in the Premier League and I know what the requirements are to do that.
I met with Martin (Bain) and Ellis (Short) this week and we had initial discussions about how we move forward. We will meet again in a few weeks.
Moyes seemed confident in the fact that his future clearly remains on Wearside, and one must begin to wonder as to whether he will take the 4 remaining fixtures as an opportunity to experiment with his side.
Larsson returns after serving his ban for a red card received in the game at home to Manchester United, while last week’s missing men: Billy Jones, Jason Denayer, Jack Rodwell, Darron Gibson, and Lee Cattermole are all doubtful still.
Predicted XI: Pickford, Love, Djilibodji, Kone, Manquillo, Ndong, Khazri, Honeyman Gooch, Defoe, Anichebe.
I think Moyes will go for something a little bit experimental tomorrow, and a line-up like this might give him the chance to asses one, or two players as the season draws to a disappointing close.
Score Prediction: We’re 100% relegated, so you just know we’re going to come out and ruin Hull’s dreams of Premier League survival. 3-0 Sunderland - it’s written in the stars.