Tony Gillan: Sunderland at least have time to come up with post-relegation strategy

Sunderland owner Ellis Short at the Burnley game.
Sunderland owner Ellis Short at the Burnley game.
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It has taken a Trump-esque feat of mental gymnastics.

But I think I have actually found a way to make it sound as though last weekend was a good one.

Bear with me; this’ll be good.

If we concur that Crystal Palace, Leicester City and an assortment of other clubs whose names begin with “the likes of” will be safe, then the three relegation places are between Swansea City, Middlesbrough, Hull City and Sunderland.

Of those four, only Sunderland avoided defeat. This means that they gained a point on all of their direct rivals. Convincing or what?

Add to this that Moyes’ men will not have lost for a minimum of four weeks by the time the next defeat comes – and will be undefeated away in the month of March – then we’re stumbling into the dominions of unbridled success here. What more do you want?

As the poet said, the lark’s on the wing, the snail’s on the thorn, the clocks go forward on Sunday, ITV are showing a new series of Cake Wars and all is well.

The naysayers will allude to different statistics; such as the minimum 56-day gap between scoring goals, or the failure to win a home fixture since before Christmas. But those people are distorting the facts for their own agenda. Shame on them.

Aaaah... I’m not even convincing myself. In fact I’m not even trying to. Anger seems to have been usurped by resignation.

I suspect that as far as most Sunderland supporters are concerned, the game was up when the final whistle blew on Saturday. And I don’t just mean the Burnley game.

Even a victory would not have convinced many. But the difference it would have made to Sunderland’s position was also the difference between hope – and what now appears to be fantasy.

Despite the guff we keep hearing about sinister machinations and “something rotten” at SAFC, the whole sorry state of affairs is simply because so few squad members are good enough.

The problems after the nil-nil defeat aren’t confined to the seven-point interstice to fourth-bottom. There is also the issue of: “If they can’t beat the only team that has failed to win away all season...”

What to do now? Well obviously the team has still got to go out and do things that seem increasingly unlikely. But beyond that?

It is to be hoped that a proper plan is put in place and that the maximum amount of time is available to implement it.

In the event of what Bob Murray used to call “Scenario B,” but everyone else referred to as relegation, then certain players will clear off.

This being so, two things should happen. The first is that transfer fees for whoever leaves should be ludicrously high; as seems to be the norm elsewhere. Note the approximate £85m that Newcastle raked in last summer for six players who had proved incapable of even keeping the club in the Premier League.

The second thing is that suitable replacements are introduced tout suite. So often have we been told over the years, by so many managers and directors, that they are working round the clock to sign new players, only to then see a lot of overpriced panic-buys hooked in at the last minute.

Perhaps they are already working hard on a properly-conceived strategy. We hope as much. Relegation would hardly be out of the blue, so Sunderland at least have the advantage of time. That, I’m afraid, is the one good thing about the situation.

Although the clocks really do go forward on Sunday.