Fan blog: Sunderland won't be in the top six at Christmas - but that isn't bad news

After Saturday's 1-0 defeat in League One against Gillingham, Sunderland were left in more trouble, in 11th place with 26 points.

Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 4:45 pm
Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson

This now means that Sunderland will be unable to make their way into the play-offs before Christmas. So, does being within the top six at Christmas result in promotion?

Last season, all three of the teams that claimed promotion were positioned within the top six at Christmas. Luton were in the top two with Portsmouth, while Barnsley - who also claimed automatic promotion - were sixth with only 39 points. Play-off winners, Charlton, hung around the top six for most of the season and on Christmas Day, they were fourth.

In the season beforehand, both Wigan and Blackburn were in the top six, but the 2018 play-off winners, Rotherham, were ninth come Christmas. Rotherham only had 33 points, but a seven-game winning run catapulted them up to fourth, where they stayed for the rest of the campaign.

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In the 2015-16 season, Barnsley produced one of the shocks of recent League One seasons. They were in the relegation zone at Christmas and only had 21 points, and they still were able to claim promotion up to the Championship. A magnificent run towards the end of the season meant that they won 16 out of the last 24 matches and only lost three - a formidable record for a team that was in the relegation zone halfway through the season and were still able to claim promotion.

So, although Sunderland are 11th and are 13 points off the table-toppers, it is shown that teams that aren't in the top six at Christmas are still able to claim promotion. The common denominator between teams that claim promotion are that they go on lengthy winning runs, something the Black Cats have to do.