Wise Men Say: Mega day in Sunderland’s safety scrap

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WE’VE sat down with the old fixture lists a couple of times now on our shows.

We were aware that it’s perhaps a bit of a pointless exercise, but we still did it anyway.

We looked at all the relegation candidates and predicted how they’d do.

As it happens, I still think a correctly predicted point at Stoke is a decent result – and it was a decent performance at the Britannia Stadium last week.

But, as with most relegation battles, teams near the trapdoor won games you didn’t expect them to and suddenly everything looks different again.

Bloody Hull and Steve Bruce!

What it now means is that a game against Southampton that had previously been another you might have fancied taking a point from, looks like a game we can’t afford not to win.

Shoot on sight against Kelvin Davis, I say.

Before getting into the specifics of tomorrow’s game at the Stadium of Light, I’d like to disregard a couple of collective popular opinions; from a personal point of view, of course.

Firstly, I don’t want Leicester to beat Newcastle and hope a win for the Lads pulls John Carver’s side back into it.

Yes, their form is awful but a fluky win against West Brom or West Ham at home for them and they’re likely to be safe.

Let’s please just try and win, get above the Foxes and go into our game against them in a fortnight with a bit of momentum.

Secondly, I just can’t get my head round the idea that Sunderland will be better off getting relegated.

Yes, we might win a few games of football and that would indeed be nice, but we’d need to rebuild again regardless, and then yet again should we somehow come back up.

Southampton, in context, of course, have shown that clever recruitment can improve a side no end.

Yes, they’re better than us and have that golden youth academy, but their squad was weakened significantly before a few carefully selected players have slotted in and kicked them on.

While we could never dream of challenging for Europe any time soon, it’s far, far from unrealistic to hope we could just avoid another battle to stay up.

And with Lee Congerton finally having his path clear to make an appointment that will suit the remit, I’d love us to be in the Premier League next season and see what kind of players they go for.

They won’t be from Brighton or South America, you’d think.

But it’s looking harder and harder now.

Regarding the game tomorrow, I’d love the stadium to be rocking.

Will it be? If we score and then play well, maybe.

You’d have to say that our magnificent fans would try and recreate the white-hot derby atmosphere in different circumstances.

But, whether you like it or not, there’s still a detachment between supporter and player, and watching sides like Hull and Leicester go above and beyond to change their fortunes recently merely highlights how this lot have seemingly tried to coast through the season with their head above water.

If this was a side applying itself fully, wholeheartedly and without question then they’d have a right to turn to us cap in hand.

Show us you mean business and we’ll happily do the rest.

If we lose tomorrow and that lot up the road continue their pathetic run of form then we really could be up a certain creek without a paddle.

The Wise Men Say podcast is available every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes.