Wise Men Say: Now we’ll see what Sunderland are made of

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THERE were all sorts of strange and polarising emotions running through my head by five o’clock on Saturday evening.

Before the game at Stoke, I was sick of having to talk myself into thinking Hull, QPR and Burnley would fare worse than Sunderland in the relegation run-in; so much so that I decided I just didn’t care anymore.

We constantly say it’s the hope that both keeps you going and kills you, and I decided to accept that, realistically, there’s just no way that this group of players can replicate the form from their great escape from last year.

They have been woeful, weak, ponderous and pathetic all season.

So, before the trip to Stoke, I’d indeed convinced myself that we’d lose comfortably and that, despite falsely suggesting similar sentiments last season, I was ready to face relegation anyway.

Enough surviving already, just bring it on and see what happens.

I felt the only thing that could persuade me against embracing the drop would be an unlikely result and performance at the Britannia.

Then we kind of got that. Kind of. In a small way.

I can honestly say, a surrender and a heavy defeat would have strengthened my desire to write this lot off, but, then, when you’re about to blow out the failing, flickering flame of hope, you see a second-half performance that makes you think it can all be salvaged.

There was nothing to suggest from the performance that this side can’t be pushed up to the level of the likes of Stoke with two or three good signings in the summer.

All this talk of a deep-rooted problem is popular, but ultimately, because of decisions made by a few different people in a few different positions, our recruitment has been rubbish and it’s that simple

We aren’t cursed. Ask Leeds fans.

A new manager could change that in one transfer window.

But why am I doing this to myself?

We’re gone, goosed, surely?

Actually, why are the players doing this to me? An unsurprising 3-0 reverse or something oin Saturday and my mind was made up.

Yet they couldn’t even build my hopes up properly by grabbing a win!

Drawing when wins are vital, and slipping into the bottom three may not provide hope to many, but, in isolation, this is a good point against a decent team and we now have four points in our last three games.

Before facing Newcastle, Palace and Stoke, who’d have taken that?

You probably wouldn’t have expected or hoped for more.

As it is, dropping into the bottom three is of extreme relevance now.

We’ve been brandishing this squad mentally weak for long enough; even with last year’s turnaround still fresh in the mind.

Now, one way or the other, we’re going to see a reaction from them and find out what they’re really made of.

For a side previously only in the bottom three for a very short space of time this season, this is bound to have a psychological impact on them.

Will they sink or swim?

With Leicester and Hull implying they’re ready for the challenge ahead, they’re going to commit to the one or the other, you feel.

Will they rise or will they drown?

If only we could now have the chance to avenge an 8-0 defeat to somebody. That might fire the players up.

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