Dick Advocaat, the Sunderland manager, who collected his 11th point from the seven games for which he has been in charge with a 0-0 home draw against Leicester on Saturday, believes his team can stay in the Premier League despite tough away trips to Arsenal and Chelsea to come.
He may yet have to rely on a final-day defeat for Hull by Manchester United to get the job done.However, Advocaat knows one point from Wednesday’s trip to the Emirates Stadium or Sunday’s visit to the champions will see them clinch safety and he is confident they will stay up. He said: “We will stay in, I have no doubt about that.”
Striker Connor Wickham is determined not to prolong the agony until the weekend, and he is hoping Sunderland can take a decisive step on Wednesday night.
He said: “They are two tough games away from homes, but they are opportunities for us. We need one point, we all know that. We know what we have got to do now and it’s something we are capable of.”
The Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has praised his manager Nigel Pearson for their successful survival battle which was completed by earning a point at the Stadium of Light. “He’s the best manager I’ve worked under,” said Schmeichel. “The boys kept believing all season.”
For long periods during the campaign, last season’s Championship winners looked destined to make an immediate return to the Football League, but Schmeichel revealed that there was always a confidence in the squad they could avoid the drop.
Schmeichel said: “It’s come from belief, never losing focus, never losing the belief and the energy that we put into games, just keep going, keep working, keep believing in the way we want to play football.
“I liken this run-in to winning the title last season, it’s sort of the same thing, You are going into every game needing points, you have to keep picking up points, and we have done that. It’s been a great run.”
Newcastle United could still go down after losing 2-1 at Queen’s Park Rangers on Saturday. They go into their final-day match against West Ham at St James’ Park just two points clear of 18th-placed Hull.
“I’ll tell the players to keep away from the TV and going online, to keep them focused on preparation,” said manager John Carver. “If you take your eye off the ball you get punished, and we’ve got to keep our focus sharp.
“It’s still in our hands, and if you want it enough then you can do something about it. We’ve got a week to get our heads around this situation.”Reuse content