Wise Men Say: Fears of a nervy final-day for Sunderland

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We should’ve known that we wouldn’t quite get over the line on Saturday.

Over the last two seasons, we’ve had a lot of dullness blanketing the odd spell of breathlessness – and this stand-out battle for survival certainly fits into the latter category.

The quality was low in some parts of his display, as well as the team’s generally, but nobody can dispute the determination and desire to keep going

I’m disappointed that I can’t just sit back and enjoy the conclusion of it all; Premier League football banked for another year. Now, the lads might go to Arsenal and get something, meaning we can relax, of course, but I sense it’s gonna be a nervy afternoon sitting in that away end at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

As for Saturday’s goalless game, there wasn’t lots to speak about or analyse, in truth. Despite a lot of negativity coming from fans in the bars and on social media afterwards, there was something reassuring about the fact that these players are together and united for the cause – no matter how short of collective quality there is among them.

After the Crystal Palace collapse, there was a feeling that the players had turned it in and it’s credit to them and their manager that we’re the side with the points on the board. For the first time in a long time, there’s a side in red and white that you feel like you want to connect with as a fan; that has a clear structure and togetherness as a group.

That’s what you ultimately want as a fan.

Yes, should we succumb to the pull of the relegation trapdoor then there’ll be an overwhelming sense of anger around the fact we didn’t witness this togetherness and application until April, but I’ve always held the principles that dictate a Sunderland side giving 100 per cent will get my full support. SInce Dick Advocaat came in, I feel like I have my club back.

Lee Cattermole is one of the very few you feel has always had the right attitude and he epitomised the determination of the lads on Saturday with his own performance. Regardless of a certain highlight programme trying to portray him as a liability again, his controlled aggression rallied his team-mates around him to keep plugging away.

The quality was low in some parts of his display, as well as the team’s generally, but nobody can dispute the determination and desire to keep going.

That could be critical going into games at Arsenal and Chelsea.

There’s a lot of talk about the attitude of other sides near us in the table and it’s a relief to me that there’s an obvious unity between pitch and terrace at present.

Seb Coates looks like a new player under Advocaat. Just like forward-thinking players need the shackles off to express themselves, defenders need to be allowed to defend first and foremost without overly worrying about having to excel on the ball. Maybe this was an issue for the Uruguayan under his fellow countryman Gus Poyet, and his man-of-the-match display against the Foxes leaves a feeling of what could have been. A much better goal difference and guaranteed survival, perhaps?

Gauging the mood of other Sunderland fans, I’m possibly being a little too generous with my appraisal here. But the stinking attitude of this current squad has always been my main complaint both privately and on the podcast.

Effort and commitment go a long way for me. On to Arsenal and Premier League survival.

* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from Dick Advocaat. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes