A CALCULATOR is as essential a part of the matchday kit at this time of the season as a Bovril or a pre-match pint.
Every week, the make-up of the relegation dogfight seems to change and potential points tallies immediately recalculated to decipher the magical total which will secure Premier League survival.
With six games to go, how many points do Sunderland need from these last half-dozen outings to stave off the drop?
Dick Advocaat reckons “at least” six after putting his neck on the line earlier this week. Few would disagree with him.
While Leicester’s rejuvenation has sharpened nerves through the rest of the bottom five, a final tally of 35 still looks to be sufficient to comfortably survive.
It’s why despite Newcastle’s run of six successive Premier League defeats, the Magpies look to already have enough points on the board.
But Sunderland defender Anthony Reveillere is more cautious about stating a definitive magical total when asked what Sunderland require.
“I don’t know!” said the ex-France international. “It seems to change every week.
“We have to win games though. It’s as simple as that. We need three points as quickly as possible.
“You can only take the situation match-by-match, rather than think we need to win two games.
“If we can win this weekend, then that obviously helps.
“The competition gets more and more intense every week, and you just don’t want to have any regrets afterwards about being unlucky, we could have done more, what if we’d won this match etc.
“Leicester have got some good results and they’ve done well.
“They’ve got a bit of confidence now and now we need to search for similar results for ourselves.”
Victory at Stoke City tomorrow would immediately meet half of Advocaat’s desired points target, yet scoring a goal, let alone a win, has proved problematic for Sunderland over recent months.
Sunderland have netted just three times in their last eight Premier League outings, with no-one in the Black Cats’ ranks boasting more than five goals to their name this season.
Despite conceding four times in their last outing against Crystal Palace, that lack of attacking potency is Sunderland’s big problem according to Reveillere, with a shared responsibility required to overcome that crucial mental block.
The 35-year-old added: “Above all, the problem is scoring a goal. That has been hard for us this season.
“I don’t know why that is, maybe it’s psychological.
“We find it much easier when we score the first goal than if we are pressing and chasing the game.
“It’s up to all of us to get those goals.
“That’s something the coach has been working on – more shots, more crosses because we need more chances to score.
“At the present time, that’s been difficult for us.”