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Gus Poyet has 31 games to save Sunderland but, with one point out of a possible 21, is their relegation already inevitable?

 

Prediction is often called an ‘imperfect science’ which, despite misrepresenting the nature of science, means that to predict something requires a judgement to be made without perfect or total information, and invariably on instinct. So here goes.

 

Considering that one of last year’s relegated teams, Wigan Athletic, won the FA Cup, it would not be an exaggeration to say that all of the teams in the Premier League are capable of top half finishes.

Like the league below, the Championship, the Premier League is highly competitive and although the Premier League has something which the Championship lacks, an elite top 6 clubs who are certainly on another superior level, results this year have already shown that anyone can beat anyone else.

For example three of the biggest title contenders have already been beaten by teams who somebody somewhere has seriously tipped for relegation: Cardiff City beat Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion beat Manchester United, and West Ham United definitely beat Tottenham Hotspur.

With this football truism that ‘anybody can beat anybody else’ this season vindicated by the first weekend of October, weaker clubs have shown that they have what it takes to compete, making prediction for relegation tricky. Though, there are some likely candidates.

 

Crystal Palace trip off the tongue as relegation fodder for many. The Eagles have not shown the courage of say Blackpool who came to the top flight ready to play decent football, albeit in vain, and have neither shown the strategic acumen of Wigan Athletic’s seven-year miracle. In Palace’s last match at Anfield, their plan and its execution showed a naivety uncharacteristic of their manager Ian Holloway.

A lightness and narrowness in midfield was evident from the moment the teamsheet was announced. They were overwhelmed by an organised Liverpool midfield who were complimented by positive full backs and strikers who actively fell deep and tracked back to the same extent Holloway probably wished when he named his own team. It is likely they will be relegated.

Relegation fodder number two is Sunderland. Their current plight has been caused by dissonant choices by management. Some will argue that the culturally fascist Di Canio was brought in out of sheer desperation as a short-term measure during a period of great difficulty for the Black Cats last season. However, this is false if you look at the fact that he was given a long-term contract. Did Sunderland know what the Italian would be like in his man management?

It didn’t take a great deal of due diligence, simply a toe in the pool of the football news cycle to see that Di Canio has disrespected authority whilst commanding it totally from his inferiors. These contradictions were bound up in Di Cano’s appointment and dismissal and show a dereliction of duty, business sense and common sense from anybody who influenced these choices.

Gus Poyet has been brought in. He is a good manager and seems a good person, but inexperienced in the Premier League. So it is another gamble from Sunderland’s executive management. The odds are against them and it is likely they will be relegated.

 

That’s the two relegation fodder out of the way. It is time for the wildcard. It is unlikely, one feels, that any team that has Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Bent in the squad will be relegated. There are twenty-five goals between them this season and Fulham should soon pick up speed to mid-table.

The managers of Hull and Stoke are both experienced and should hold their nerves to settle Premier League status for next year. This leaves Cardiff. They have made good and appropriate investments to their team, notably Steven Caulker and Peter Odemwingie, two who will have brought confidence to defence and attack.

But their fearless manager Malky Mackay has no experience in the Premier League – which by no means necessarily equals relegation – but the interference from their owner Sri Vincent Tan must make fans of the Bluebirds (or is that Redbirds?) shudder.

This distraction is not positive. To save oneself from relegation requires a siege mentality, not a power struggle. This could prove fatal. It is likely they will be relegated.

 

Do you agree with our relegation three? Join the discussion @FootyMatters

 

 

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