EVEN in victory, Sunderland find themselves treading water near the foot of the table.
After slipping into the bottom three last weekend, for only the second time this season, it just goes to show how costly some of those early-season draws could be.
Aside from the home capitulation to Crystal Palace, we’ve looked pretty solid under Dick Advocaat.
Sunderland have looked a threat going forward in the last couple of games, and have created clear-cut chances that should have been taken.
Seven points from the last four matches is a good return, but it could have been so much better.
Recent results around the bottom of the table just go to show you can’t write anyone off. You can’t rule teams in and out of the battle.
Newcastle are in freefall. The manager doesn’t seem to like the players. The players don’t seem to like the manager. The fans don’t seem to like anyone. Hovering two points above the drop zone and in horrific form, they’re now serious candidates for the drop.
Their fixtures aren’t as tough as ours or Hull’s, but we’ve both won games in recent weeks. Leicester and Aston Villa are capable of scoring goals, with the latter looking pretty leaky at the back.
Sunderland look solid, but will we take the chances if they fall our way?
We have to be more clinical if we’re to avoid dropping into the Championship.
Danny Graham’s goal drought continues, but his overall performance against Southampton was fantastic. He had a hand, or should I say head, in both of our goals and worked tirelessly. He battled and tackled his way through the first half, lifting the crowd in the process.
We’ve often spoken about Danny on the podcast. It seems a little unfair that he hasn’t been afforded the chances some others have had. Jozy Altidore was above him in the pecking order.
Steven Fletcher, bang out of form, always seems to get the nod over Graham too.
On Saturday, the former Swansea man showed how to play that central striking role in Advocaat’s 4-3-3. He pleased the manager, contributed to the positive result, and got the crowd onside.
His all-round play means he deserves to be rewarded with more starts.
I’ve been very critical of Jordi Gomez, but he’s been a different player since the change of manager.
He’s moving the ball quicker, and I’d argue that he’s been our best player in the last six weeks or so. He slotted his brace of penalties away coolly while under extreme pressure.
He deserves the recent plaudits and long may it continue.
We know we’re a side lacking guile and quality. It’s going to take fight, determination and a little bit of luck if we’re to stay in with a shout of survival.
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.