SUNDERLAND SECURE GREAT ESCAPE
The Black Cats became just the second club to lie at the foot of the table at Christmas to survive by virtue of a 2-0 victory over the other, West Brom, at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday night.
It was their fourth successive win, something they had not achieved in the top flight since December 2000, and gave them a total of 13 points from the last 15 they have contested.
Less than a month ago Poyet stated that his side required a “miracle” to avoid relegation, insisting that only three wins and a draw would be good enough to ensure Sunderland top flight status for another year.
And after an incredible run, Poyet revelled in the achievement, insisting that the win over Pepe Mel’s Baggies was one of the greatest days of his life.
“I can say it’s going to be remembered for ever — there are going to be people talking about it in many years’ time — Sunderland did it, it’s possible,” he said. “It's one of the happiest days of my life. I'm absolutely delighted. I'm proud and so pleased for the fans.
“It's been difficult, very difficult, but we've stayed up in a certain style, we're going to be remembered for this for a very long time. We've shown you can stay up despite being seven points adrift with a month left – but it'll be a miracle if something like this happens again”
It seemed so bleak for Sunderland at Christmas. As did it just a month ago. But Poyet has guided the Black Cats to safety against all odds and they can now start planning for next season. The win also virtually relegates Norwich from the Premier League because last night’s losers, West Brom, have a far superior goal difference to the Canaries, who will join Fulham and Cardiff in the Championship next season. There will be no drama on the final day of the season, but Poyet, his players and the rest of the Sunderland fans won’t care one bit.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
Sunderland can look ahead to the future – a future in England’s top flight. They must now start the ground work to ensure that they do not endure another season like this. Following the calamitous reign of Paolo Di Canio, Poyet has steadied the ship and has provided what many thought was impossible: Premier League status. The Uruguayan admits that lessons must be learnt from this near-fatal campaign and that everything will be done to ensure his side a better finish next campaign. “
"Can I go another year like these seven months? No. I'm strong, but I don't want to die, I don't want to have a heart-attack, I don't want to lose any more hair than I have lost already,” he said. "I want to have a season where I can relax and see my team playing football week in, week out. Are we going to win the league? No, but we need to make sure we don't go another season like the last two or three because when you play with fire, in the end, you get burnt and we don't want to do that."
WHAT THE MEDIA SAY
Louise Taylor (The Guardian): Miracles tend to be painfully elusive but Sunderland supporters now know they really can happen. Only three weeks ago Gus Poyet conceded that divine intervention seemed called for if his side were to be saved from relegation but a run of four successive wins has transformed the Wearside landscape, securing one of the greatest escapes in Premier League history.
George Caulkin (The Times): It is now official: this has been the best worst season in Sunderland’s history. Bottom of the table at Christmas and back there again less than a month ago, when their head coach was talking bleakly about requiring miracles and lurking gremlins, Gustavo Poyet’s team secured their position in the Barclays Premier League last night after a resurrection that has stretched plausibility to the point of translucency.
WHAT THE FANS SAY
Hats off to Gus Poyet and Sunderland pulling off the great escape! They were written off a few weeks ago!.. #MiraclesDoHappen
Happy for Sunderland, it was a great escape. Full credit to Gus Poyet & his players. They deserved to stay up.
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