I remember walking to Molineux for the final game of last season and hoping we wouldn’t be contesting another dead rubber in a year’s time.
Well, I didn’t quite get my wish but mustn’t grumble.
Seriously though, you almost had to remind yourself there was still a game left to play with all the talk of bus parades and players we might be signing for next season.
There’s still the matter of getting 100 points and equalling the record for most wins in a Championship campaign, so hopefully the lads can rouse themselves one final time.
The Black Cats just want the season to be over. Two consecutive relegations (we know how that tastes), another manager sacked and big question marks over when the slide will be halted.
Wolves did a good job of getting their act together when they dropped into League One and Sunderland will be following that blueprint to the letter if common sense prevails.
Get rid of the expensive senior players, unless they’re fired up and committed to the cause. Give talented youngsters (of which Sunderland have a few) the platform to shine and use your clout as a big fish in a small pond to cherry pick some of the best players in the league.
And above all of that – get a good manager who knows what’s required. Chris Wilder would be a massive coup if they could lure him away from Sheffield United, while a return for Mick McCarthy wouldn’t be a bad option either in my view.
I’ll be watching with interest to see how their summer unfolds.
While we’re all salivating over the possibility of mega bucks signings, I’m intrigued to see what the verdict is on several fringe players who may or may not be involved in August.
Bright Enobakhare is one. Even in his short cameo last weekend, it was clear he’s a colossal talent, but one who continues to frustrate by faltering in front of goal. If Nuno could somehow encourage that final few per cent out of him, we would have some player on our hands. Alternatively, this might be the moment to see how he fares playing regularly somewhere on loan.
I’m convinced Leo Bonatini will leave, but as my old man commented last week, there’s still a sense Nuno prefers the Brazilian to Afobe, backed up by the fact he played him through the middle in all the big games against Fulham, Villa and Cardiff. So maybe that’s not so straightforward?
Alfred N’Diaye would be a player I’d definitely sign. We will need reinforcements in midfield regardless of whether the big Senegalise international stays or goes but I think his physicality is an option worth retaining.
Danny Batth, Roderick Miranda, Kortney Hause, Phil Ofosu-Ayah and Rafa Mir are others who must be points of discussion when the head coach, Kevin Thelwell and the rest of the team sit down to outline the makeup of next season’s squad.
As for this game, no idea who’ll make it onto the pitch, but there’s been little sign of rotation from Nuno thus far, so every chance of our first choice eleven.
If Wolves win this game, they’ll not only get a century of points and complete a clean-sweep of victories over every team in the Championship, but they’ll also have exactly three times as many points as Sunderland.
I’m not trying to stick the boot in there, I’m just making the point that this is very much a top versus bottom clash and if the Champions player to their maximum it should be comfortable.
They somehow managed a cleansheet at Molineux in December, but I can’t seem them shutting us out again.
A more robust performance at Fulham last time out still failed to yield any points and that’s just how it tends to go for teams at the bottom.
Up The Wolves!