Dear Roker Report,
Doubtless like many other SAFC fans I was both disappointed/frustrated with yet ANOTHER stalemate, this time at Peterborough - a fixture which really needed to be won.
So that takes the number of draws in our league campaign this season to the grand old total of eighteen (maybe the statisticians amongst us may like to check if this constitutes a new record). It’s not really a stat associated with a side seeking promotion, and who knows, this latest “share of the spoils” may well prove to have been one too many in the final analysis, i.e. one which finally killed off any hopes we may have had of claiming second spot in League One.
Drawing games is fine, but eighteen I feel is just a way bit excessive!
In fact, I reckon that if at least half of the aforementioned draws had been turned into wins then maybe now we’d surely now already be up, possibly even as Champions just for good measure.
Instead there seems a rather strong likelihood of having to strive for a return to The Championship via the play-offs, a competition in which we do not have a particularly brilliant record. Which is why if we do eventually have to settle for “the lottery” as it were, I hope we don’t end up meeting Charlton in the final in a re-match of 1998!
I’d like to think that we could still go up automatically but it does now look a bit of a long shot. Realistically speaking we surely now will need to win ALL of our last three games, AND rely on Barnsley and maybe Portsmouth both slipping up (including of course when the latter visit The Stadium Of Light for a crucial clash).
A bit of an unlikely scenario, though I guess you may get good odds at the bookies!
Consistency is what matters, for you’re judged on results over the course of the season, and both Barnsley and Portsmouth have not only displayed consistent winning/scoring form, but also the sort of mental strength, resolve, attitude call-it-what-you-like necessary to see out games/turn draws into wins - something which seemed lacking on our part at the ABAX Stadium when Peterborough equalised.
In terms of whats at stake when we play Portsmouth, I’d hoped at one stage that the outcome may be pretty much academic as far as we were concerned, i.e. that we may be already up/at least more or less looking to go up automatically by the time the game came around.
However, it now appears to take on the billing of winner-takes-all, and I guess that the atmosphere at The Stadium Of Light next weekend will take on “pressure-cooker” proportions, such will be both side’s need for the three points. But this would not of course be the first time we’d faced such a gripping scenario!
But one factor which does maybe offer a glimpse of hope is that we have in the past occasionally been “masters of the unexpected“.
I guess that while there’s still a chance we have to back Jack Ross and the lads right to the bitter end. Hopefully a place back in The Championship will be ours come next month, whether that be automatically (unlikely as it may seem) or via “the lottery”.
Fingers (and everything else) then crossed.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Your parting statement is absolutely spot on - until it’s all over we have to set our grievances aside and get behind both the players and the manager in my opinion.
I’m as frustrated as everyone else at some of our recent results, but dwelling on it and spreading negativity at a time when we just need to focus on the goal of promotion isn’t productive.
I’m saving my inquest until it’s too late for Sunderland to gain promotion, because as it stands we can still finish in second and we’re guaranteed a place in the play-offs.
Until we’ve ballsed up every single avenue we have to remain hopeful that we’ll achieve what we set out to do last summer - to get promoted back to the Championship.
I know it’s tough, but stay strong and we might just get there.