Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

McCarthy Waits for the Miracle

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

McCarthy Waits for the Miracle

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

If a statistic were needed to illustrate the magnitude of Sunderland's suffering, it is that the only success the Wearsiders have enjoyed during a season which is now four months old was encapsulated into 15 days of tantalising optimism.

In the five weeks before, and the nine weeks since, the Black Cats have known nothing but angst, lurching from one disaster to the next with little to inspire confidence that their grief will ever ease.

In North London at the weekend, the Wearsiders played with commitment, fight and heart. That a ninth defeat in succession was the inevitable outcome was crushing.

As Mick McCarthy assumed a brave face for the umpteenth time, it was impossible to imagine what keeps him going during these traumatic times.

Although a manager running out of things to say insisted he still enjoys his work, in the next breath he spoke of how wearing it has become to lose with such unerring frequency.

What can he do to engineer the unlikeliest revival in Premiership history? He talked about working hard, spirit and endeavour, although he never sounded entirely convincing. Miracles were mentioned; they have become his best hope.

What else can McCarthy do but hope for divine intervention? The Black Cats boss changed his formation for the third time in eight days at White Hart Lane but the end result remained the same.

Having conceded that, in the unlikely event that funds are made available, he will struggle to persuade anyone of any significance to join a club plummeting headlong in a downward direction, he knows there can be little he can do to prevent the relegation which, with 22 games still remaining, is assured. West Brom stayed up with 34 points last season. Having collected five from their 16 games, it is a target Sunderland stand little chance of reaching. McCarthy has insisted he will not walk away, but, as the defeats pile up, understanding his motivation to continue turning up for work becomes increasingly difficult.

The Black Cats boss is a proud man and the one thing which will drive him on will be his determination to turn this mess around and prove the critics wrong. But what if he can't? What if this wretched run continues? It shows no sign of abating and there must surely come a point when, regardless of who makes the final decision, it is concluded that enough is enough. It will not be long before Darwen's unwelcome record for consecutive league defeats begins to be discussed again on a regular basis; such is the depth of the club's troubles. The Wearsiders have now matched the nine-game losing sequence with which they surrendered their Premiership status three seasons ago, albeit one of those games coming in the Carling Cup.

Nine weeks have passed since Sunderland collected a point, 10 since they recorded their sole league win. …

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