GUS Poyet feels that the “Sunderland Miracle”, the “Great Escape” – call it what you will – is going to be the benchmark by which the most desperate of future relegation dogfights are measured.
The Black Cats’ 2-0 victory over West Brom last night confirmed a flight from the jaws of relegation which was every bit as remarkable as it was unlikely.
“It will be talked about for years to come,” said Poyet as he acknowledged that fact.
“It will be famous.
“In future years, people will say of struggling teams that if you are seven points behind with six games to go, that it is not over, that it can be done: ‘look at Sunderland’, they will say.”
“I don’t know if something like this will ever happen again, but I believe in miracles now.”
Sunderland needed a point against the team immediately above them in the league to ensure that – barring a statistical miracle – Norwich City would go down with Cardiff City and Fulham.
From the opening whistle against Albion though, it was clear that Sunderland, winners of their previous three games, were intent on making it a fourth.
There was a second-half wobble as Albion made changes and pressed when play resumed.
But Sunderland saw that through and Poyet was proud of his players’ resolve. “I’m delighted that we didn’t panic,” he said.
“We did brilliantly in the first half and had to survive a shaky 10-15 minutes in the second half.
“Doing that was harder than it might have looked and they deserve great credit for holding their nerve.
“When you have worked so hard and you are so close to achieving your goal, when you can almost see the finishing line, it is easy to get nervous.
“It was difficult for us but we kept playing football and kept a clean sheet.
“The players deserve every credit for that.”