Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

A Hangover after the Great Escape ; Sale Boss Steve Diamond Feels in 'Limbo' Now Relegation Pressure Is Off

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

A Hangover after the Great Escape ; Sale Boss Steve Diamond Feels in 'Limbo' Now Relegation Pressure Is Off

Article excerpt

AFTER all the trials, tribulations and traumas of the most dramatic season in Sale's history, Steve Diamond's overriding emotion after securing Premiership safety was the one least expected.

Disappointment. From having stared the disaster of relegation square in the face at Christmas - and lost the services of two directors of rugby in Bryan Redpath and John Mitchell - by the time Diamonds ditched his chief executive's suit to don the tracksuit once again, most pundits - not to mentions fans - had already written Sale off.

'We A campaign that in Diamond's own words at times had resembled Fred Karno's circus, was hurtling towards oblivion when he took up the helm on Boxing Day with Sale 13 points adrift of London Welsh.

to go down the The turnaround since has been little short of remarkable.

From having lost their first seven league games, Diamond's midas touch has seen Sale garner 25 points out of their 31 gained in total with their only league losses coming at the hands of big hitters Saracens, Leicester and Harlequins.

Indeed, if there were a league table compiled on post Christmas form, Sale would be fourth. Along the way, Diamond also guided the Sharks into the LV= Cup final - their first showpiece game in seven years.

So when the Sharks' safety was officially secured last weekend, with Welsh's relegation confirmed, one would have expected Diamond to crack open the champagne.

Instead he said it felt more like a hangover.

"I don't know how to explain it but in a weird way I woke up over the weekend with an air of disappointment because the pressure had gone," revealed the Sharks commander in chief.

"We knew what we had to do and we had prepared ourselves for it to go the wire so you now end up in limbo.

"You had to have a strong mentality when you embark on what we did at Christmas to know that it's going to take a big effort to do it and we've actually secured our safety two weeks quicker than I thought... that was the only help we got from the five points Welsh were deducted.

"So the sense of achievement is high but as I say the disappointment is there that the pressure has gone."

Arguably the nadir of Sale's season came at Christmas.

Having fought tooth and nail to recruit the services of formidable former All Blacks head coach John Mitchell after moving Redpath to the role of head coach, Diamond looked on in astonishment as a love-sick Mitchell's announced he was anxious to return to South Africa barely a month after arriving in Manchester.

were With Sale having been thrashed 62-0 in Toulon - their biggest-ever Heineken Cup defeat - owner Brian Kennedy publicly criticising star signing Danny Cipriani and a member of the club's social media team sacked for using offensive language to describe some Sale supporters on Facebook, the club were in danger of becoming a laughing stock. …

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