Football Echo Verdict: Spirited Sunderland show, but it’s looking bleak

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“DON’T worry, bout a thing” chanted the majority of the 38,000 till the very end.

In an atmosphere which could easily have turned poisonous given the mess Sunderland currently find themselves in, the Black Cats faithful took to their Bob Marley-inspired terrace anthem and backed these players to the last whistle.

If there is a “right way” to go down, then Sunderland showed how a club can edge ever closer to the relegation trapdoor while their dignity remains fully intact.

As the crowd gave their all, so too did the players.

Gus Poyet’s side ensured there could be no accusations of throwing in the towel, as they produced arguably their best display since the Capital One Cup final.

The effort was there, just not the quality to put the ball in the back of the net.

Undoubtedly, Sunderland deserved a share of the spoils, against an Everton side who didn’t really reproduce the rampant form they have shown over recent weeks.

Yes, Steven Naismith missed a couple of sitters, but the Toffees were never able to dominate. That was a credit to Sunderland.

That it took such a luckless own goal from Wes Brown to decide matters proved to be typical of how this campaign has gone for the Black Cats.

The bottom line, of course, is that Sunderland’s prospects of pulling off a miraculous escape act look even more remote, particularly after wins for Fulham, Cardiff and another point for West Brom, albeit they were pegged back by a dramatic comeback from Spurs.

With trips to Manchester City and Chelsea next up, realistically this was the one Sunderland needed to win to stand any chance of getting back amongst it.

But it is important if Sunderland are to suffer relegation, that they don’t instantly raise the white flags and exit the Premier League with a whimper.

If they did, then that kind of mentality can have a hangover into the following season, even if the majority of the current squad are unlikely to be at the club next year.

But from the opening whistle, there was a determination and hunger around Sunderland.

Perhaps it helped that Poyet’s men approached the game with no expectations of securing a win. It’s when the pressure has been on to record victories that Sunderland have wilted this season.

Reverting to a 4-5-1 formation helped. It looked a far more natural fit and as the game wore on, Lee Cattermole, Ki Sung-Yueng and Jack Colback were able to prevent Everton monopolising possession.

With Connor Wickham proving a bustling presence up front too, Sunderland were the more dangerous side as the encounter wore on.

Gerard Deulofeu was the only real player in Everton’s ranks who looked capable of putting Sunderland on the back foot and after getting the better of Marcos Alonso on a couple of occasions, the on-loan Barcelona winger finally opened the door via Brown’s unfortunate deflection.

Even then though, neither supporters or the players let their heads go down.

They kept going. That’s all Sunderland can do until their fate is mathematically assured.

Twitter @youngsunecho

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