Rowell Report: Half the league in battle to survive

Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell
Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell
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I’M NOT sure I can remember a season where there have ever been so many clubs who could genuinely go down.

When you look at the table, there is a big gap between Sunderland’s opponents on Saturday, Southampton, in ninth and all of those teams below them. It is almost as if there are two leagues in one.

Hull have had a really good first half of the season, but I’m sure Steve Bruce would not say they are safe and they are among 10 or 11 sides who will still be worried about relegation.

Sunderland are battle-hardened though from a season that at times has lurched from one scrap to the next.

They have been playing under the pressure of being in the bottom three, whereas teams who suddenly get sucked into it, can face a massive culture shock.

Sunderland can’t say they aren’t familiar with this position and it’s suddenly thrust upon them.

You look at the trajectory of teams and Sunderland are going upwards.

Over the last 10 games, including cup matches, our record is really good.

The exceptions have been the two poor results against Norwich and Aston Villa, which were the ones we were expected to win.

That’s something Sunderland need to put right – they need to start winning regularly at the Stadium of Light.

But the other clubs down there will be worried about Sunderland.

That win at Fulham on Saturday, along with West Ham’s victory at Cardiff, will have sent shockwaves through the bottom half of the table and a lot of managers will look at that and think Sunderland are not dead and buried.

If you’re down there and you think one team is gone, you are only fearing two places to avoid.

But suddenly, other clubs will look at Sunderland and realise there are spots which they are fighting against.