Alex Neil’s pre-match words to his Sunderland side evoked moments of great footballers

It was a day where from start to finish it never looked like it would be anything but a return to the Championship for Sunderland as their woes at Wembley became a distant memory. When they failed on the biggest stage in years past, their game plan was executed to perfection with inspirational words from Alex Neil propelling his players to a comfortable victory over Wycombe Wanderers.

The club’s logbook heading to the homeland of English football has been electric without a taste of defeat in 16, but this one game is often where you see stats and form sidelined. Not today.

Since his appointment in February, Neil hasn’t even bothered with the club’s recent history and its downfall in the divisions. All he cares about is getting players to play smoothly so they can keep making history. The chance to carve into club folklore was the theme of his pre-match conversations with his players.

“It’s so nice that it is,” Neil said. “When I was talking to the guys before the game, I was talking about moments. Moments in your life and moments in your career.

“You can have all the money in the world, you can play at higher levels and you can do this or that, but if you look at key players throughout history you think of their key moments. Van Basten “The volley. Maradona? The goal where he throws it over Shilton. It’s the moments in time that are the most important thing.

“What I said to the guys today was, ‘This is your moment in time. You could be a hero today who will never be forgotten. No one can ever take that away from you.” For Sunderland fans, this group, this team, these individuals will be forever remembered, and rightly so. I’m so, so happy for them that it is.

Sunderland fans sold out their huge Wembley allowance and many fans traveled to central London in the previous days to have their voices heard on Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. They might have had a few headaches at Wembley the next day, but they didn’t have a sore throat as their fierce support made it a cauldron of noise. You could barely hear Wycombe’s end as the two groups of players made the long exit from the tunnel at 2:55 p.m.

If the Headmaster’s words weren’t enough to set a fire in your stomach, it certainly was. Sunderland started the game like a house on fire and for a brief moment fans thought they had had the moment they had dreamed of when their head hit the pillow on Friday night when man of the match Alex Pritchard kicked his free kick into the side net. at the third minute.

The wait for a goal would not be too long. Sunderland were rewarded for their first start when Elliot Embleton crossed the heart of the field past two Wycombe players and struck home from 20 yards. Question marks surround Chairboys keeper David Stockdale’s efforts to stop the shot, but the local lad didn’t care at all as he catapulted himself into the air in celebration.

Gareth Ainsworth’s side started to try but Sunderland’s full-back remained firm handling a lot of balls in the box. But a small slip from Bailey Wright almost gave Sam Vokes a lifeline before Anthony Patterson snuffed out his close range efforts. But this was to be their only clear chance.

With the tension of a one-goal cushion on fans’ minds, Sunderland delivered the killing blow at a crucial moment in the game. Ross Stewart showed the striker poise he’s shown all season by shooting low into the corner beating rooted Stockdale and effectively buffering the result with ten minutes to go.

Echo of the North:

The game reached its conclusion and although the players agreed on the whistle celebrations, it was not a delighted reaction. It was more of a feeling of relief. Relief that a long overdue stay in the third level has come to an end.

Manager Neil said: “When you come to a club like Sunderland, people like a fallen giant, don’t they? They love to stick the boot into a fallen giant. “You shouldn’t be where you are”. ‘You didn’t do that, bullshit, bullshit’.”

His reign in charge has been nothing short of remarkable for the fortunes of the club as he continues: “It was such a challenge for me to come here because he has sucked managers in for the last four or five years. It was hard for people. But I always had the confidence and the conviction that I could come to a big club.

“I came to Norwich from Hamilton which was a huge leap in terms of level and infrastructure, and after leaving Preston I felt I had to go somewhere and show everyone what I think I can do again. But if I’m being brutally honest, you can only do that with really good players and a really good team. The support we’ve received from fans over the past three months has been incredible.

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