Richard Hercock: Nothing lucky about these Black Cats or playing in red shirts

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Hull City supporters have nothing to fear in the Premier League run-in, for I believe the relegation places have already been sorted.

I think the bottom three in the current table will be playing Championship football next season and the writing has been on the wall for some time.

While that may not go down too well with fans of Sunderland, Cardiff City and Fulham, it is going to take a monumental effort to turn their season around.

And, as yet, I have seen nothing to suggest they can do it.

Watching Sunderland on Monday night against West Ham, they looked like a side who are used to losing. Despite an amazing tally of 26 shots at goal, Gus Poyet’s side seldom looked like scoring. Not even a rare start for Connor Wickham – who impressed this season while on loan at Sheffield Wednesday with eight goals from 11 games – could conjure up a piece of magic.

Maybe that’s the gulf between the top two divisions in England.

Losing striker Steven Fletcher was a huge blow for Sunderland, and the only thing lucky about this bunch of Black Cats is that they are not adrift even further.

They are four points off West Brom, in 17th place, with a game in hand. Unfortunately, games in hand at the bottom of the table are about as useful as a chocolate fireguard when you just can’t buy a win. More so when five of their next six fixtures are against teams in the top seven of the table, all chasing European qualification.

Games against West Brom and Cardiff offer a lifeline, but by then it could be too late for Sunderland – who have escaped a points deduction for fielding an ineligible player, Ji Dong-Won, earlier in the season.

Fulham, too, are down in my book. Having seen them twice play Sheffield United in the 
FA Cup, plus a few other times in the league this season, they are the worst Premier League team I have seen this year.

They are five points from safety and have only six games left – Sunderland have eight – with their only hope being not having to play any of the top five in the run-in. But even that won’t save Felix Magath’s side.

Making up the bottom three are Cardiff City. Maybe I am a traditionalist, but when the club’s foreign owner ripped up years of history by making the Bluebirds change the colour of their strip from blue to red, I was not impressed.

I have no allegiances to any Premier League club, but feel relegation might be a just reward for Cardiff’s owner.

Just as at Hull City, or Tigers as some would have it, rich owners have a duty to protect the club’s history and integrity while at the same time building a succesful business.

From the outside, that seems to have been lacking at the Welsh club and it has been a tough start to life as a Premier League manager for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. They snatched a point in a 3-3 draw last week at West Brom, who – along with Crystal Palace – are one of two teams who could get sucked into trouble.

Cardiff have another chance to claw some points back today when they host Palace, but I think Tony Pulis has done a great job there and expect the Eagles, and Hull, to survive.