Miracles are few and far between but it appears as though everyone in football is desperate to get one. From Cardiff’s Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer to Dortmund Jurgen Klopp to Sunderland’s Gus Poyet, they have all been hoping and praying for some divine intervention in the form of a much needed miracle. This season has already seen a few dispensed with Crystal Palace receiving the biggest one in the form of Tony Pulis, who has turned around the club and has them climbing further and further away from relegation zone each passing week. Palace were supposedly dead and buried when Pulis took over in November, rooted to the bottom of the Premiership with only two wins to their name. But with some luck and hard graft, Pulis pulled Palace up by the neck and has won 9 out of 21 matches in charge helping them to 14th place in the league, showing that miracles do happen.
Meanwhile in Germany, Jürgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund needs more than a miracle tonight if they are to proceed to the next round of the Champions League. 3-0 down from the first leg against a rampant Real Madrid, Klopp knows his only hope of progressing is to turn to Bayern Munich bound striker Robert Lewandowski to produce another miracle of his own, similar to the one he performed last year at this time when he notched all four goals ironically against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi final game. Only a repeat of that and a clean sheet will help Klopp and Dortmund out of their current predicament. Klopp is in good spirits but realistic at the same time. Miracles never happen when you talk about them beforehand said Klopp in regards to a question from reporters yesterday about Dortmund’s chances. Regardless he will be hoping that after the game, he can speak about witnessing one more.
Back in England in the battle to beat the drop, Premiership duo Sunderland and Cardiff know that whilst it’s still mathematically possible to survive, the challenge will be one of their toughest yet. Both managers have spoken recently about needing a miracle to prevent relegation from happening but with three teams going down, neither is likely to have their prayers answered. After Monday night’s 5-1 defeat to Tottenham, Sunderland need all the help they can get as they sit bottom of the Premiership. Manager Gus Poyet spoke about how his team lacks the quality during periods of the game to finish off chances that could make the difference but insisted there was no place to hide and that Sunderland needs to step up. When quizzed about what his team needs in the last seven games, given that they are 7 points adrift, Poyet politely said “a miracle”. Honesty from a coach who has restored some pride back into Sunderland after its disastrous start to the season under Paolo Di Canio.
Fellow strugglers Cardiff also need a miracle to survive with head coach Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer admitting that his team lacked self belief against Crystal Palace on Saturday. The Eagles ran out 3-0 winners, meaning Cardiff have only won 3 times in the last 15 matches. With 5 games left, Solskjaer remains upbeat but the odds are stacked firmly against his team especially given that they have tough games against Newcastle, Stoke and Chelsea still to come. It has been a tough season for Cardiff with managerial changes, on and off field drama as well as some agonizing last minute defeats but survival is still realistic, if they can win their remaining games and other results go their way. For Sunderland and Cardiff, the news that Chris Hughton has been sacked at 17th place Norwich and replaced until the end of the season by an untried manager will come as welcomed news. Poyet or Solskjaer will not like to see their fellow manager lose his job but if it gives both clubs the glimmer of hope that they could survive at the expense of Norwich, they will take it. After all miracles come in all shapes and forms.
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