A Season In Purgatory
It would be unfair to the collective memories and experience of supporters past and present to describe this current campaign as a season in hell.
We've lived through those right enough, even if the passage of time can help take the edge off the heartache.
But the 15 and 19 pointers ticked all the boxes, as did the drop into the old Division 3. For me 1976-77 had a brutality all of its own, the hopelessness, the wide-eyed joy and the sad twisted finale at Goodison as, elsewhere, Jimmy Hill played his Time Lord games.
There've been games alone which had a touch of hell - older fans will recall the last home game against Chelsea in 1963 or the 1979 debacle against Cardiff with promotion in sight. And, more recently, that disgusting 1-5 at The Landfill. And anyone at Hull back in '67 for that second replay will never use the words fair and football in the same sentence.
No, this isn't hell. It's worse in its way. It is purgatory.
Maybe someone should have subtitled the Divine Comedy: 'It's the hope I can't stand'. Though we were closer to the league title 700 years ago than we are now Dante didn't have a future Sunderland on his mind when he penned his famous poem.
But he knew a thing or two about hope and despair and would see a sporting equivalent in the current season under Martin O'Neill and his less-than-merry men.
Watching game after ponderous game of this fare is soul destroying. It's like waiting for the last bus when you know its long gone but you can't figure out what else to do. So you sit there. Just hoping.
While we likely won't go down and will somehow shuffle towards another half a dozen points we know that avoiding relegation isn't going to solve things.
At best we face another whole sale clean out in the summer with the dreaded rebuilding word bandied about again.
But at worst. Oh God, just imagine another season with Larsson in central midfield, Catts in the treatment room, no proper full backs, Johnson getting slower and centre halves in a collective slow-paced race to see who can pick up their pension first.
So we can genuinely ask:
Why a top flight team would play a good chunk of games with two midfielders at full back?
Why we would buy a striker for 5-million who is a poor replica of what we already have while sending a younger player out of loan and selling yet another?
Why we set up to play counter attacking football with one of the slowest squads in the league?
Why we have players constantly coming back from injury and getting hurt again?
Why we fill our midfield with plodders and expect to play exciting football?
Why we bring in unfit players on loan and then either can't or won't play them as they come, then eventually go, like a silent fart in a crowded room?
While we may not get any answers to these and other questions we do get the result which is dreadfully dull football that will possibly see us limp across the finishing line with the only joy being that it is finally, blessedly over.
From Purgatory there beckons either Paradise or Hell. Which one awaits us? Bookies have closed the books on the latter.
(Our Canadian Correspondent)