Allardyce proves to be the master survivor yet again
Ripping back his jacket to flex his muscles to a feverish crowd, Sam Allardyce led the Sunderland fans in celebration at a delirious Stadium of Light on Wednesday having once more proved the perfect man for a relegation scrap.
A 3-0 victory over Everton moved Sunderland decisively clear of their rivals for the drop with one game remaining, leaving the club's bitter foes Newcastle United and Norwich City to face up to life in the Championship.
For Allardyce, it was another personal triumph that extended his record of never having been relegated from the Premier League as a manager despite a CV that includes some of England's less glamorous clubs.
After stints at Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United as well as Newcastle, Allardyce was appointed by Sunderland in October when they were 19th in the table and without a league victory.
"There were a long few winter months, we got players in January... We became a team that was difficult to beat, who did not like losing and continued the run constantly for the last few months," Allardyce said.
Sunderland have become used to fighting at the wrong end of the table in recent seasons, with their last four campaigns ending in a battle to avoid the drop.
In Allardyce, however, they found a manager who seems to relish that point in the season when his players have to roll up their sleeves and scrap for survival.
He set about slowly turning them into a more combative and organised team and the one-sided demolition of Everton was his ninth win in 29 games in charge.
When the dust settles on the campaign Sunderland fans might point to their business in the January transfer window as key to their success.
Wahbi Khazri arrived from Bordeaux to provide midfield creativity while Jan Kirchhoff, a 750,000-pound ($1.1 million) signing from Bayern Munich, has been steadying presence in midfield.
Lamine Kone, the unlikely two-goal hero against Everton, arrived from Lorient to add a physical presence at the back.
With the Premier League set to be flooded with cash as a new TV deal begins next season, avoiding relegation has perhaps never been so important.
"I hope I am here next season," joked Allardyce, who parted company with West Ham after leading them to a 12th-place finish last year.
"We have just secured the financial side of being in the Premier League which was most important this season.
"What that gives us in terms of spending power, it is the same for everybody. It is about how wise we spend it, find players we need, like we did in January."