Gustavo Poyet's “miracle” is nearly complete.
After Saturday’s stunning win at Old Trafford, Sunderland are virtually there.
They will even avoid the prospect of any last-day nerves if they win in mid-week, which is incredible given the mess they were in after they shipped five at White Hart Lane.
Poyet and his players will deservedly celebrate on Wednesday if they complete the job against West Brom but the club cannot allow the party to go on for too long.
They have managed to pull off the greatest escapes but the manager will know it should never have been allowed to get to that in the first place. It has been far too close to call and they cannot risk this again.
The manager’s’ first call has to be to build a forward line around Connor Wickham, who is probably the main reason why they are going to stay in the Premier League.
Let’s be honest – if Wickham was still at Leeds and Jozy Altidore was leading the line Sunderland would be down by now. I think it was a bit of panic decision by Gus to bring him back but it looks like a master-stroke now. Sometimes you get lucky like that in management, but when you make a call that comes off you have to make sure you learn your lessons.
After a lot of false starts, Wickham now looks like the future of Sunderland. He is only 21 and he has proved in the last few weeks there is a real talent there if it is nurtured right, and now Poyet’s job in the summer is to find someone to play alongside him and support him.
Maybe Steven Fletcher can do that job next season if he gets himself fit and gets a decent pre-season under his belt. If not, Sunderland have to invest in someone to support Wickham and they need to get it right – because making the wrong call in the transfer market with Altidore last summer nearly led to them going down.
Goalscorers cost a fortune but Sunderland have found one within their own ranks and they have to give Wickham a run in the team. He ticks all the boxes for me: he’s young, he knows the league inside out and he is a quick learner. He can be a major player for them in the coming years.
I’m surprised but delighted Sunderland have pulled themselves out of it but now is the time to learn the lessons.
The form has papered over some of the cracks and Gus will know that. He is not stupid and he’ll recognise Sunderland have to get things right in the transfer market.
I’d like to see Ellis Short back Gus and give him the right tools to make sure Sunderland are never in this position again. They have done extremely well to get out of it but it is their own mistakes which landed them there in the first place – and they have to learn their lessons and make sure it doesn’t happen again.