After back to back relegations, Sunderland needed stabilizing this season and Jack Ross has done exactly that, while also achieving expectations by getting the club in and around the promotion race.
Some fans may feel a club of Sunderland’s size should have walked the league but it doesn’t work like that; not when Ross had to oversee such player turnover, change the culture of the club and deal with being a huge scalp in the third tier.
But will Sunderland get over the line in the final weeks of the season? We’ve taken a closer look at their final four fixtures to decide…
Peterborough (A) – Draw
The Posh are a dangerous attacking unit with play-off hopes of their own and the trip to London Road will be a tough one for the Black Cats.
A draw would not be a bad result, but any dropped points at this stage of the season will feel like an opportunity missed.
Portsmouth (H) – Win
This is the big one that the promotion race could all come down to. Sunderland will be out for revenge after Portsmouth beat them in the final of the Checkatrade Trophy and it would be perfect timing.
Fleetwood (A) – Win
Former Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton will be keen to ensure his Fleetwood side put a dent in Sunderland’s promotion hopes, make no mistake about it.
But they are also the kind of comfortably mid-table opponents that a promotion chaser wants to face at this stage of the season and that means Ross’ side should get the job done.
Southend (A) – Win
Southend could already be gone by this stage of the campaign, but even if they’re fighting for their lives, Sunderland should still back themselves to win this one.
It’s a promotion race that should go right to the wire but so much rests on that Portsmouth game. Win, and Sunderland should get the momentum to propel them to promotion. Losing would mean the play-offs beckon.