Tomorrow’s game doesn’t define Sunderland’s season - to me it’s just another game, but as the season draws to its conclusion, one cannot help but look towards the outward meaning of our impending result.
Obviously, our fate is in our hands at this point, but rarely does all go to plan on Wearside, however, this is a side now brimming with confidence. We’ve seen off many a bogey team and with Peterbrough firmly in that category, this feels like one final test before we attempt to steamroll our way to the season's end.
It goes without saying a win would be the most welcome and straightforward result. With games in hand over Hull, a win away to The Posh would all but greenlight our automatic promotion should we match them result for result on the run-in.
Additionally, a win really rubber stamps our credentials as a promotion favourite and justifies some short odds at the start of the season.
Not only does it certify that Sunderland are the one team to look out for, but it also justifies Lee Johnson's appointment as manager, as a bold and sustained change in fortunes proves what we all knew to begin win - Sunderland have a great side.
Obviously, a win doesn’t hand us promotion on a silver platter and we’ll still have to show every game after the same amount of respect we afford this upcoming fixture, but should we do so, promotion would seem almost inevitable.
A draw isn’t ideal, but it isn’t bad either.
Peterborough has rarely been a happy hunting ground for Sunderland, so escaping this banana skin of a fixture with a point would be a job well done. A point away from home against a promotion rival should never be sniffed at and at this juncture, such a statement still rings true.
Whilst not the ideal result, it allows Sunderland to remain firmly in the driving seat thanks to their games in hand. Some may see a draw as a failure but that isn’t the case - with results recently being so positive, a draw isn’t necessarily a stumbling block & more a continuation of sustained good form against what is a very competitive and very efficient Peterbrough side. A draw doesn’t spell disaster, in fact, far from it.
Now, this is the obvious worst-case scenario, but it shouldn’t be the end of Sunderland's promotion push. Ahead of such cliches of ”must win game” and ”promotion 6 pointer” arising, let’s not lose sight of the fact that even if Sunderland lose, we still control our own fate thanks to our game(s) in hand.
Losing isn’t ideal and makes our promotion push more of a tightrope walk as opposed to a full-on sprint to the finish but that isn’t to say under the circumstances it can’t be done.
As we know, Peterbrough isn’t our happiest of hunting grounds so a loss wouldn’t be the most surprising result, especially given that the words ”Sunderland” and ”easy way” rarely go together unless you put “never do things the” in-between them.
Losing will raise questions and no doubt accusations of the team ”bottling it” will be thrown around but that need not be the case should Sunderland bounce back with a certain level of ferocity. Should we lose, the reaction to the result will be as important as the result itself but as is with the players and staff, us fans must remain calm and level-headed.
Losing our heads at such a stage would be unforgivable and would undo a lot of hard work, so far be it from ideal, this game would not define our season, however, our reaction to it will.