It seems as though the annual Wearside miracle of Sunderland avoiding relegation from the Premier League is unlikely to happen this season.
The Black Cats seem to be marooned at the bottom of the table, while the likes of Hull City, Middlesbrough and Swansea show at least some fight.
David Moyes side are now seven points from the safety of 17th position. It really is hard to see them pulling the great escape off this season.
Never mind Steve McQueen, they will need a miracle of Jesus proportions this season to stave off relegation. Not sure Moyes could carry off the beard and the long hair look.
Only real quality will leave this summer
To say that the Sunderland squad lacks quality is an understatement. Every summer their squad seems to get weaker. Moyes had to shop in the bargain basement for signings in the summer and January. All he ended up with are Everton and Manchester United rejects.
The only real players of any quality in the Sunderland squad are young goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and veteran striker Jermain Defoe. Centre-back Lamine Kone may just get an honourable mention, although the Black Cats have been terrible at the back this season.
The rest of the squad will fit right in at Championship level next season. It would be a major surprise if Defoe and Pickford are still with the north east club next season.
Have to stay in the Premier League
Defoe and Pickford are at the opposite end of the age spectrum. However, both must stay in the Premier League for next season.
Even at 34 years old, Defoe is still a highly dangerous striker. His team have struggled to score goals of late, but the England international is their main source of goals. If the veteran fails to score then Sunderland usually fails to score.
Defoe has scored 14 times in his 29 appearances for Sunderland this season. Without his goals, the Black Cats could be in an even worse position than now if that’s possible.
The striker could definitely still do a job up front for a Premier League team next season. He was linked with a return to former club West ham earlier this season. No doubt if he did decide to leave the north east club there would be Premier League takers for the striker.
Young Jordan Pickford has enjoyed a spectacular rise this season. The 23-year-old started the campaign as back-up to Italian number one Vito Mannone. However, early in the campaign, Mannone picked up an arm injury and Pickford shone in the Italian’s absence.
Having endured an injury lay-off of his own he is back in-between the sticks for Sunderland. The Black Cats being bottom their goalkeeper is highly rated. Pickford has reportedly attracted the interest of Everton and Watford.
Everton are expected to sign a new number one next summer, as there are question marks over Spaniard Joel Robles long-term chances of being number one on Merseyside.
If he moved to Merseyside and was number one then it could prove to be a good move all around, apart from for Sunderland of course.
Sunderland’s luck seems to have finally run out
Sunderland have become the masters of the great escape from relegation. However, it seems their luck has finally run out and the Black Cats are now odds of 1/33 to be relegated from the Premier League this season. In truth, this has been coming for a long time for Sunderland.
I doubt many Black Cats fans would blame Pickford or Defoe for leaving in the summer if they did go down. The pair have done more than any of the other players in that Sunderland squad to keep their team in the top-flight.
Unfortunately for the north east club their efforts look set to result in nothing but relegation. The pair have every right to leave the club with their heads held high in the summer.
Will Jermain Defoe and Jordan Pickford leave Sunderland this summer?
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