ERIC Black is savvy enough to know that Martin O’Neill sweeping into Sunderland means that he will be swept out.
But that didn’t stop him wanting to leave on a good note and a 100 per cent undefeated managerial record in his one game in charge.
“I did think we might get the victory,” Black sighed after yesterday’s 2-1 defeat at Wolves. “We were getting close and it would have been nice to leave on a win, but it was not to be.”
The caretaker boss was in no doubt about what the pivotal moment of the match – Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey saving Seb Larsson’s penalty kick little more than quarter-of-an-hour before the end of the game.
“I don’t want to blame Seb because he played so well for us in this game and has done over the course of the season – but, for me, the missed penalty was what cost us the game,” said the Scot.
“If that goes in, we’re two goals up and I can’t see anyway back for Wolves.
“But it’s saved, we switch off and we’re caught out.
“That’s a real blow for us psychologically because we go from a position where the game’s virtually won, to a one where we’re, all of a sudden, on level terms again and under the cosh.
“It gave Wolves the momentum they exploited to grab a second and leave us all frustrated and disappointed.
“It’s frustrating because that’s our season in a nutshell – good football, good possession, good pressure but just not able to get over the line.”
Former Coventry boss Black left Molineux convinced his side would have had all three points if only they’d had a genuine finisher in their ranks.
“Once again, we haven’t been able to score the goals that our play merited,” he observed.
“Top strikers are expensive for a reason – because it’s the hardest thing to do regularly on a pitch – and we just haven’t been able to put enough of our openings away.
“When you score a goal away from home you always fancy your chances, but when we missed the penalty and they got at us, it became a confidence thing.
“We didn’t come to Wolves to entertain, we came to be solid and the players handled the pressure really well, but the missed penalty, without being unfair to Seb, has swung it a little bit.
“The players are desperate for the win and if we score the penalty we’re going to win 2-0, but then when we concede they get anxious.
“It has been a difficult week for us, for obvious reasons, but the players were totally focused in the run-up to the game. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, but we have to be honest and say that that’s not for the first time.
“It’s not only today – there have been other games where we’ve controlled possession of play but not made the most of it.”