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Fulham v Sunderland: Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round

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How would Sunderland adapt if Premier League promotion was achieved this season?

As the lads continue to make impressive progress on the field, Anthony Gair looks towards the future and how we might fare back in the top flight

Photo by Federico Guerra Maranesi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Would Sunderland be able to survive in the Premier League?

OK, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself but yes, I’m talking about the top flight already.

If we were to make the Championship playoffs this season, it’ll be an incredible feat. A side that finished fifth in League One last season in with a chance of promotion to the promised land? You couldn’t dream it up!

I keep hearing people talk about how ‘promotion at this stage would be the worst thing to happen to the club’, but I’m here to argue against that.

We’ve been through some absolutely torrid times of late and I don’t want to dwell on that too much, but from losing 2-0 at Sincil Bank in the playoffs against Lincoln and being in the worst position in the club’s history with incompetent owners, any sort of upturn in luck is welcomed with open arms at the Stadium of Light, isn’t it?

If we make the Premier League, I feel that our style of football is arguably more suited to the top flight than the Championship, not least because I think we’d get more success from the kind of passing-based game that we play.

We’ve scored some of the greatest goals I’ve ever seen during my thirty-plus years of supporting Sunderland and we continue to play football that win or lose, you can walk away from any stadium thinking, ‘that was a great game to watch’.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s a long way from the backwards and sideways passing of Dean Whitehead and Jack Colback, without a doubt.

Of course I’m aware that the Premier League is a huge step up, but our efforts during Saturday’s FA Cup against Fulham has shown me that these players are ready for the challenge at the pinnacle of English football.

We all know that promotion from the Championship is one of the most sought-after prizes in world football, therefore making it the toughest to achieve.

Some sides in the division rely on strength and power as opposed to fleet-footedness and slick attacking play. This is why we often seem to lose against those nearer the bottom, but can outplay most of the teams at the top.

The bottom half of the Premier League is filled with sides who try to do the very same thing, to find that bit of quality to get them over the line, ensure they survive for another season and grab that elusive wallet-filling TV package.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that we could give most top flight teams a good game with our best eleven on the field.

Fulham v Sunderland: Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Players like Patrick Roberts, Jack Clarke, Alex Pritchard, Dan Ballard, Aji Alese and Ross Stewart would absolutely relish the opportunity to prove themselves and I’m certain that it would lift the performance levels of players like Dan Neil and Trai Hume, too.

To say that I’m excited for the future, promotion or not, would be an understatement, because we’re playing some of the finest football any of us have ever seen, and we’re in good hands.


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