When Dick Advocaat was announced as the surprise choice to take over from Gus Poyet at Sunderland it’s fair to say we were a little sceptical.
“He’ll be just another Felix Magath” was the lazy assertion being bandied about.
The comparison was quickly made between the doomed Fulham tenure of Magath and the potential for the same outcome on Wearside.
But we’re glad to have been proved wrong.
Dick has done it, preserving Sunderland’s Premier League status with a 0-0 draw away at Arsenal last night that ensured the Black Cats will be a top-flight team next season.
And this is what it meant to him.
— Dispensable Soccer (@Dispenssoccer) May 21, 2015
And here are some of the defining moments in Sunderland’s fight for survival.
Sunderland 1-0 Newcastle, 5 April 2015
Having been beaten by a late winner at West Ham in his first game in charge, Advocaat was immediately under pressure.
And the prospect of a tense Wear-Tyne derby was hardly going to steady the nerves.
But the Dutchman needn’t have worried. Jermain Defoe’s winner on the stroke of half-time ensured a fifth win in a row against the Magpies and was just the boost the flagging Mackems needed. Just don’t mention what happened against Crystal Palace a week later…
Everton 0-2 Sunderland, 9 May 2015
When a striker who hasn’t bagged a top-flight goal since December 2013 finds the back of the net you know your luck is starting to turn. Danny Graham set Sunderland on their way to a vital three points with Defoe adding the gloss to a priceless victory.
Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland, 20 May 2015
A point is all they needed and the visitors didn’t disappoint. Sunderland’s dogged display at the Emirates was enough to ensure a ninth straight season at the top level and they even had chances to get more out of their trip to face Arsenal.
Cue tears, jubilation and the satisfaction of knowing that they’ll be the ranked as the top dogs in the north-east this term – whatever happens on Sunday.
And so we’re left with a straight shoot-out between Hull and Newcastle on the final day.
We’ll let talkSPORT’s Alan Brazil have the final word on last night and the battle to avoid relegation.
Strap yourselves in.
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