The odds on Sunderland being relegated from the Championshipplummeted once again after they slumped to a second consecutive defeat at theweekend.
The Black Cats were woeful in the face of adversity and rolled over toallow Ipswich to leave Wearside with a comfortable 2-0 win. It was our fourthdefeat in five games and leaves us marooned in the relegation zone, in 23rdplace, a point off the bottom and two away from safety. We are on the brinkof suffering a second relegation in a row and dropping down to the third tierof English football for the 2018-19 season.
Heritage sports will have odds, check them out and you will see thatSunderland are odds-on to go down this season. Bottom club Burton are as goodas down for the bookies, priced at 1/5 to be relegated. Then Sunderland arenext in the betting at 8/13. Barnsley, who are a point above the relegationzone, are 6/5, while Bolton and Birmingham – both out of the drop zone atpresent – are 2/1 and 5/2 respectively. Hull, who occupy 22nd place,are all the way out at 5/2 as well, with the bookmakers clearly seeing light atthe end of the tunnel for the Tigers.
It is easy to see why the odds on Sunderlandsurviving are so short.Chris Coleman’s arrival has failed to galvanise this beleaguered group ofplayers enough thus far, and Sunderland have won just once in 2018. The Welshman must sometimeswish he had not accepted the job. The Black Cats were in the relegation zonewhen he arrived, he inherited a defensive mess and he was not given a penny tostrengthen in the January transfer window.
We have takenjust 25 points from 30 games this season and that is absolutely pathetic. Eventhe most optimistic of Sunderland fans could not have expected the club toyo-yo straight back up to the Premiership, but this is ridiculous. This primarily after plunging into a financial mess. Simon Grayson was given just £1.25 million to bolster the squad in thewake of a raft of departures. Contrast it with Middlesbrough, who kept most oftheir squad together and spent £50 million on new players like BrittAssombalonga and Martin Braithwaite, it was clear Sunderland would struggle toeven finish in the playoff places. A mid-table finish, a season ofwound-licking and consolidation, and then regrouping for a title bid in 2018-19seemed about right. What fans would now give for a mid-table finish.
We probably need another 25 points fromtheir remaining 16 games ifwe are to beat the drop, and it is hard to see where they are going to comefrom. There were faint glimmers of hope in the Ipswich game: loan signingAshley Fletcher looked lively and held the ball up well, while Liverpool youngster Ovie Ejaria was full ofenergy and industry. Sunderland could have done with some more January signings tobring a fresh dynamic into the squad, but we will have to make do with what theyhave got. Coleman is clearly a talented manager, but, as Ipswich boss MickMcCarthy quipped, turning the situation around is like steering an oil tanker.Coleman is not a miracle worker, but there is still hope.
Barnsley’s form iswretched and they can be leapfrogged, and Sunderland might just be able tomuster up the energy to overhaul a Bolton or a Birmingham. Saturday’s trip toAshton Gate is crucial. The Robins have lost four of their last six and areplummeting down the table, so they will be low on confidence and vulnerable. IfSunderland can plunder a result there it could spark renewed belief onWearside, but lose and the spiral of doom will only lengthen.