The odds on Sunderland suffering a second consecutive relegation have plummeted after back-to-back defeats against Brentford and Bolton. It leaves the Black Cats winless in their last five and bottom of the table, with just 13 games left to play. Chris Coleman delivered a scathing assessment of the playing squad he inherited in the wake of the Bolton defeat and Sunderland’s prospects are looking extremely bleak ahead of the season’s denouement. Saturday’s North East derby is now a huge game for the club, but Boro are in far better form and they are the clear favourites to secure victory at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland are now as short as 1/4 to go down this season. Before you make a bet check out BetOnline review for odds and you will see that they are underdogs for their forthcoming games and unlikely to get out of danger. Only Burton have a shorter price for relegation than Sunderland – and they are three points clear of the Black Cats. The oddsmakers believe Barnsley are in trouble as they are 8/11, while Birmingham are 6/4 and Bolton are now out at 2/1 following last weekend’s win.
The only potential saving grace for Sunderland is that a couple of the teams around them are also in horrendous form. Birmingham have lost four in a row, while Barnsley have lost four of their last five. They face off in a crucial six-pointer on Saturday, and a draw would suit Sunderland. However, Bolton have now gone unbeaten in five games after hitting form at the perfect time of year, while Burton have also taken five points from their last three. Contrast that with Sunderland, who have lost four of their last five and look in total disarray, and you can see why they are such a short price to go down.
How has it come to this? After finishing bottom of the Premiership and having a financial mess to unravel via a fire sale, few expected the club to yo-yo straight back up to the top flight. But comfortable mid-table obscurity should have been the bare minimum, a year of recalibration, before a concerted push for promotion the following season. Instead, the nightmare has continued, the losing ways have become ingrained even deeper and nothing seems to be able to break the cycle.
The mentality of the players has frequently shocking: at every slight hint of trouble they fold like a house of cards. There is a total lack of resilience, leadership, bottle and fight. Fans hoped Coleman would prove the saviour when he was parachuted in to save the day, but his record has been just as poor as Simon Grayson’s. But one thing you cannot accuse Coleman of is lacking fight, and the Welshman came out swinging after the last defeat.
“If you’re at a club like Sunderland, where where there’s exceptional passion and a lot of supporters, those fans need people here who care about the club as much as them,” he said. “Therein lies a problem. Obviously Ellis wants to sell the club and they recognise that maybe his love for the club was yesterday. He wants to sell the club, that’s common knowledge, so until we get someone that wants to turn a corner with it and love it, care for it and look after it, you get the negativity. If the people here who do love the club don’t think you feel the same way, then there’s a problem. We know about all that and the anger and frustration from everybody. Myself, Martin and the players have to accept that. We’ll take that on the chin. But until we have a new owner with new ideas, we are where we are.”
That was a withering assessment, but bang on the money. Coleman is covering his back in case Sunderland are indeed relegated, but there is still time for the former Wales and Fulham boss to salvage his reputation and Sunderland’s season. The Black Cats are 3/1 underdogs for the visit of Sunderland – an astonishing price for a home team and a club of the Black Cats’ stature, but reflective of their woeful recent performances – but they could upset the odds. The fans will be well up for the derby, Paddy McNair is coming back and there is no better stage to mount a last-gasp survival bid.