You’d have struggled to have secured very attractive odds for this season’s Sunderland Player of the Year awards.
“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” Benjamin Franklin once famously wrote.
Well, you can add Jermain Defoe winning Player of the Year and Jordan Pickford Young Player of the Year to that list.
Those two have been head and shoulders above the rest of the Sunderland squad throughout this dismal campaign, to the extent that had the awards been dished out back in December nobody would have complained.
Didier Ndong one of the few other players who can hold his head high after the club’s 10-year stint at the top table came to an end.
Defoe and Pickford both have high standards and while they will take pride in the award they know it counts for little with the club relegated with four games to spare.
Defoe, a two-time player of the year, has scored 37 goals since arriving in January 2015 with flop Jozy Altidore going the other way – surely one of the best ever pieces of business.
Derby day goals against Newcastle United secured his legendary status, alongside his 15 league strikes last season that played a pivotal role in the club’s survival.
The 34-year-old scored the same number this season – three shy of his best ever league haul heading into the final three games.
Three games that will be his last in a red and white shirt.
Defoe, who has a clause allowing him to leave on a free in the wake of relegation, will head for pastures new. Nobody will begrudge him a move this summer.
A proven goalscorer, Premier League clubs are having to form an orderly queue as they bid to land his signature.
It is galling for Sunderland fans that one of the club’s biggest assets will be allowed to leave for nothing, but his goals have proved priceless in recent seasons, before their luck ran out.
Defoe has appeared jaded in recent months, missing chances he would normally score with relish before finally ending his drought at the KCOM Stadium.
Ahead of his final home game for Sunderland, Defoe – who has struck up a strong bond with supporters – will want to end his time on Wearside with a few more goals, a parting gift to those fans who have taken him to their hearts.
The Sunderland Supporters Association’s awards night was held at the Stadium of Light, with more than 300 supporters from branches across the North East and beyond attending.
Danielle Brown was named by fans as their Ladies Young Player of Year and centre back Hayley Sharp was recognised by supporters as the Ladies Player of the Year.
Local lad Pickford was the other big winner on the night, scooping the Young Player of the Year award after a stunning debut season in the Premier League.
‘He’s one of our own, Jordan Pickford, he’s one of our own’ sing the Sunderland faithful at every game.
Pickford only broke into the team last August before quickly establishing himself as a fans favourite, with the 23-year-old surely destined to fulfil his potential away from Wearside.
“Hearing the fans sing my name through this season has been really great too, and it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when they’re shouting your name week in, week out.
“So without doubt, it’s a massive privilege for myself and my family to receive this from the fans,” said Pickford, when he collected his award.
It will rankle with supporters that it will be fans of another club that will soon be serenading Pickford, provided interested parties meet the club’s high valuation of him this summer.
It seems inevitable he too will be leaving.
Sadly, Sunderland need to cash-in on one of their prized assets in order to help fund a major summer rebuild as they prepare for life in the Championship for the first time in a decade.
But Sunderland fans are rightly proud of one of their own, who seems destined to become England No.1 in future. Sunderland’s future is unclear, but Pickford’s is bright. Very bright.
Ahead of Saturday, there remains a lot of anger among the Sunderland faithful over the club’s relegation, aware that one swallow – or a meaningless away win at Hull City – doesn’t make a summer.
David Moyes has come under fire from both the home and away support in recent weeks and the atmosphere is difficult to predict ahead of the visit of Swansea City.
One thing is for sure, though.
Both Defoe and Pickford will be given a rapturous send-off by the Sunderland faithful in what is sure to be their final appearance for the club at the Stadium of Light ahead of the final away games at Arsenal and Chelsea.
It’s the least the pair deserve.