Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Cats Have the Skills to Survive, Insists Star

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Cats Have the Skills to Survive, Insists Star

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

DANNY Higginbotham's confidence in Sunderland remains intact after a player striving to avoid a relegation hat-trick insisted his current club's predicament bears no resemblance to the past failures that have blighted his career.

The 28-year-old suffered the top-flight drop twice in four years - experiencing Derby's demise in 2002 and Southampton's in 2005 - and, having become a Black Cat this summer, the defender is determined to buck an unfortunate trend.

Although the Wearsiders could slide into the Premier League table's bottom three this weekend, Higginbotham is adamant that a prompt return to the Championship is not on the agenda.

Sunderland have won just once since August 11. But having compared situations past and present, the former Manchester United prospect feels there are no similarities between the two.

"I've been in sides that have been relegated in the past and it was a lot different," said a player keen to help the Black Cats climb the top-flight standings with a positive result against struggling Fulham this weekend. "The atmosphere, the performances - it is nothing like that here.

"I think we (the players at Pride Park and St Mary's) could tell (that relegation was on the cards) at this stage (in the respective seasons). There was a negative vibe around the place and we were all feeling uncertain.

"What happens is that you get into a position where everyone starts to blame everyone else. But it isn't like that here - it couldn't be much further from that. The atmosphere here is so different to those situations. This is without a doubt, a club that's on the up. This is a club moving in the right direction."

Higginbotham's Rams finished in 19th place with 30 points, his Saints in 20th with 32, but although Sunderland's start hasn't been problem-free, the articulate stopper remains certain that his current club's situation doesn't bear familiar hallmarks. …

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