Over the last few weeks, even the most wide-eyed andoptimistic Sunderland fans would have admitted that a drop down to League Oneis now inevitable.
In a way, it is not the six-point gap to 21stplaced Bolton that is the problem. We have seen time and time again clubs getout of trickier spots. It’s more the doom-ladenatmosphere around the club. Nobody believes that we will get out of this,which in itself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
As expected, betting companies have put Sunderland ascertainties to go down, but what about those around the Mackems? Here is aguide to the relegation battle, with the latest odds as we enter the last fourgames of the season.
Burton Albion, 32pts.
Best odds 1/100 (Various)
Lowest odds 1/200 (Various)
In a way, Burton are a decent marker for Sunderland’sdecline, because they are one of the poorest teams in the Championship, yetstill sit within a point Chris Coleman’s men in the table. There were somesigns that they could make a fist of it around Christmas, but they have a beenpoor in 2018 and have a tough run-in. They play Sunderland on 21stApril. The way things are going, both teams could be down by then.
Sunderland, 33 pts.
Best odds for relegation 1/20 (Unibet)
Lowest odds for relegation 1/50 (Various)
As mentioned above, it’s not the points gap, rather, itis the way Sunderland are playing that bodes ill for the club and its fans witheight games remaining. Normally, teams in Sunderland’s situation step up atthis part of the season, fighting tooth and nail to give themselves a chance.Can anyone really see that happening now?
Best odds 11/8 (William Hill)
Lowest odds evens (Various)
Barnsley have a reasonably manageable (by the standard ofthe Championship) run-in, which suggests the teams above them might get suckedinto trouble. They will need to get their own house in order first though, buttheir favourable goal difference could be key.
Bolton, 39 pts.
Best odds 6/4 (Various)
Lowest odds 7/5 (Various)
Hats off to Bolton, in a sense, because they looked doomedat the end of September but kicked on early this year. A fine 1-0 win over AstonVilla in March gave them a six-point cushion, but four losses on the bouncehas dragged them right back into it. If we are going to overtake anyone in somekind of miraculous survival charge – it’s probably going to be Bolton. Thoseodds are very generous for a team just two points above the relegation places.Check out this list of no deposit free bet offersfrom major bookmakers, because Bolton may be the best shot to nothing bet forthe remainder of the season.
Best odds 2/1 (Various)
Lowest odds, 15/8 (Various)
Not out of it yet by any means – but Garry Monk hasprobably had enough of an impact required to keep them above the drop. Theirthree wins on the bounce – exactly what Sunderland need, were timely to say theleast.
Best odds 28/1 (Sky Bet)
Lowest odds 11/1 (Unibet)
After a run of just one win in the last 18 games forReading, they’ve picked up two in their last four – effectively sealing theirsurvival. The demise of Jaap Stam the turning point of their season.