Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Leaving PL Will Renew Hope for a Broken Club; THE AGENDA: Relegation Cloud Will Surely Have

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Leaving PL Will Renew Hope for a Broken Club; THE AGENDA: Relegation Cloud Will Surely Have

Article excerpt

Byline: James Hunter Sports writer james.hunter@trinitymirror.com

IT is time to face facts. Forget all the talk of points gaps, games remaining, miracles, mathematics, and all the rest - Sunderland will be playing Championship football in August.

No one wants to be relegated, it is not throwing in the towel, it is merely a case of being realistic.

At this point, the alternative - survival - would be a pyrrhic victory in any case.

Sunderland have survived for the last four seasons but have failed to make any progress.

Even if Sunderland hit title-winning form in the final seven games and managed to finish 17th this season, once the adrenaline had worn off, what would be left? Only the prospect of another season of interminable struggle ahead. No thanks.

Five years spent living under the constant shadow of relegation is as much as the soul can bear.

Sunderland have spent the last decade in the Premier League - the club's longest stretch in the top flight since it was relegated for the first time in its history in 1958.

But can any supporter truly describe the last five years as an enjoyable experience? Sunderland fans have been ground down by year after year of failure and, make no mistake, dodging the drop by the skin of your teeth is failure.

More than 40,000 turn out at the Stadium of Light for every home game and thousands travel in a caravan of red and white all over the country for every away game, demonstrating a loyalty that the teams of recent years have not deserved.

But, gradually, hope and expectation has given way to frustration, and now to apathy and sometimes anger.

The fans have had enough.

Home games are now hurdles to be overcome, while on away days the football frequently ruins an otherwise enjoyable experience. But there is a cure for this malaise that has infected Wearside. …

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