TONY GILLAN: Another major test for Sunderland fans' nerves
My advice is to ignore the odds.
For the rest of our lives, whenever some highly improbable outcome is being dismissed out of hand, it will be countered with: “Ah, but look at Leicester. They were 5,000/1 you know.”
The hope is that by the time we drink our Ovaltine this evening, Sunderland will have mathematical safety. But what are their odds of survival? The short answer is “very favourable.”
With customary avoidance of common sense, I have ignored my own advice and studied the odds. Sunderland are odds on to beat Everton at every bookie. An Everton win is 1/4 with a draw at 1/3. Odds as poor as 1/ 20 for Newcastle to go down are on offer. The (even) less generous bookies will give you 1/16 on Sunderland staying up.
Norwich’s survival chances rated at 1/100, the exact reverse of the odds against a win for Georgia in the Eurovision Song Contest (Midnight Gold by Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz; looking forward to it).
No pundit I have heard thinks SAFC are for the chop and there is barely a non-Sunderland supporter in existence who disagrees with them.
The avalanche of opinion and calculation concludes that Sunderland’s safety is all but guaranteed. How then does this make the club’s supporters feel?
We can answer that. They are worried to the pits of their stomachs, down to the large intestine, on to the colon and beyond. Every hassock on Wearside has been occupied by someone praying for the football results.
It’s horrible and will only cease to be horrible if and when Sunderland are definitely in the 2016-17 Premier League. Otherwise it will be, by some distance, the most awful relegation that the fans have ever endured.
The pundits and neutrals can’t see relegation returning to Wearside. But look at Leicester. They were 5,000/1 you know.
You don’t need me to compile a list of all the dreadful things of varying plausibility that could go horrendously wrong between now and Sunday. I only hope the players aren’t as queasy as I am at the moment. Oh please lads, keep calm and pass the ball to someone whose shirt matches yours.
If tonight does not produce the desired result, I shall return home immediately after the match to commence a prolonged sulk.
In the event of a home win, then join me afterwards in Fitzgerald’s where I will uncompunctiously accept drinks from complete strangers. I have no pride, nor any intention of buying anyone a drink in return.
Assuming that such a thing is possible – enjoy the match.