LAST YEAR’S Great Escape against relegation will be long remembered as Sunderland looked a team doomed for the drop, but somehow started to perform like a Champions League, rather than a Championship, side.
Most people would point to the draw at Manchester City as the start of that great run, but it was actually the game before against Everton at the Stadium of Light when their form came back.
Even though that match against the Toffees ended in defeat, Sunderland played with spirit and purpose, and could easily have won. At the very least, they deserved a draw.
That injustice probably explained Gus Poyet’s outburst afterwards that something was fundamentally wrong with the club, as his frustrations boiled over in his post-match press conference.
He’d just seen his team match a very good Everton side, yet still they somehow managed to lose, scoring another own goal and the Sunderland head coach couldn’t disguise his anger.
I remember his quotes caused quite a stir in the press room at the time and among the fans in the days following.
Some managers give stock answers after a game and don’t like to give much away, whether they win, lose or draw.
But with Poyet, you tend to know how he is feeling, especially after a defeat when you can tell it gets to him and he takes it personally.
On the other hand, after a win like Monday night’s against Palace, his whole demeanour is up-beat and positive, and just shows the huge difference that three points can make.
I’ve no idea whether Poyet thinks there’s still something wrong at the club or not, or whether it was mind games designed to shake things up from top to bottom to get a reaction.
Whatever the reason, it’s a fact that after that game, Sunderland went on an amazing run to avoid the drop against all the odds and it would be great if they could go on a similar run after this Sunday’s game against Everton.