When Stoke visited the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night there were nine remaining games in the “normal season”. We’re down to eight games remaining now, and after we snatched a late late equaliser on Saturday was that one of our nine lives used?
I suspect not as if ever a phrase was designed for use next to the name of Roy Keane then it’s “Never say die!”. Watching the team perform over the last few months there is certainly a never say die attitude now instilled and to add to the late goal against Stoke we can add even later goals in recent games against Barnsley and Derby. The players will fight until the bitter end these days and what a refreshing change that is from last season and an amazing turnaround in attitude at the whole club (as the supporters had certainly also slumped to a mentality of concede and its game over).
At this stage of the season it is hard not to look at the fixture lists and try to predict where points will be won and lost, but, in reality there is little point in doing so as its often at this stage of the season that you get results that you wouldn’t have expected as the nerves start to kick in, plus you get the teams fighting for relegation that suddenly start pulling results out of the bag. Tuesday night was the proof of that with only Preston winning from the top eight sides.
There is only one thing that you can rely on at this stage of the season – yourself.
This week of course is the Cheltenham Festival week. A week when over 500 horses will race around the rolling hills of Prestbury Park in search of glory, but the cold stark reality of the situation is that only 24 of them can win and the other 95% or so will go home as losers hoping that next year will be their year along with thousands of punters who will go away as losers as well (especially given the lack of favourites winning already this week).
What has that got to do with football and Sunderland you may say? Well put simply there’s no point in jumping perfectly around the course if you then fall at the final fence or fail to get up that final hill at the end of the arduous race because you will be a loser. In our case there’s no point in peaking too early and hitting top spot (or second I suppose for promotion) if you then fall at the final fence and miss out on the position that matters.
There are still some difficult fences to get over for us yet, and every fence must been given the respect they deserve. It’s not easy to make up ground on your rivals up that final hill so clean smooth jumping of all your fences in the closing stages is a must. A “certain jockey” by the name of Tony Mowbray is now finding out that not respecting those fences and rivals can put you in a spot of bother. With four more of our rivals battling each other this weekend ensuring we put a big leap at our next fence is a must so focus is needed and a big roar from the supporters is always a help!!
Since I’ve brought the racing theme into it – its been Gold Cup Friday and well done to Kauto Star for proving the doubters (me included) wrong.