Could crucial, yet hectic, Easter fixtures seal Sunderland's fate?
After a two week break, Sunderland have a busy Easter weekend coming up, with a trip to Derby on Friday night, quickly followed by a home fixture against Sheffield Wednesday.
Ex-footballers from my generation will look back on the Easter period in our day as being the busiest of the season, when a Friday and Monday games would often have a fixture between them on the Saturday.
It was definitely exhausting, but exhilarating too as you didn’t have time to draw breath before going from one big game to another.
The Easter period was renowned for being the time titles were won and lost, and promotion and relegation issues decided in a hectic four days. The same could be said for Sunderland this season.
If our fate isn’t already sealed then two bad results will almost certainly confirm what many are expecting.
Six points, though, or even four, just might spark a revival, or am I just being blindly optimistic and prolonging the agony?
Either way, no matter how unlikely Sunderland’s survival chances are, the players must fight until the bitter end, particularly as there’ll be plenty of away fans at Pride Park.
There always is and they more than anyone deserve a fully committed, battling performance at the very least.
Sunderland will travel to Derby as massive underdogs, how could it be anything else with the Black Cats bottom and the home team looking good for the play-offs.
No one will be expecting anything but the toughest of games.
The second fixture of this Easter weekend, against Sheffield Wednesday at home, on paper should be the easiest of the two, but given Sunderland’s unfathomable fear of playing at the Stadium of Light, home advantage is no advantage at all.
Wednesday have had as disappointing season. Although they’ve little or no chance of relegation, I think their fans will have expected a lot more than their current 17th position.
So, two games in four days that will really test the squad both mentally and physically, and Chris Coleman has already said they’ll be season-defining games. I don’t think anyone would argue with that.