LEE CATTERMOLE admits it would flatter Sunderland if they were to finish in 12th spot when the Premier League comes to a conclusion tomorrow.
Sunderland secured an eighth successive season of top flight football on Wednesday night when they completed their Great Escape from the jaws of relegation with a 2-0 victory over West Brom.
Incredibly – after spending all bar five weeks of this season in the bottom three – that win moved Sunderland up to 14th spot and they can go even higher on the final day of the campaign tomorrow.
A win over 13th placed Swansea – coupled with anything less than three points for West Ham at champions-elect Manchester City – would send Sunderland up to the dizzy heights of 12th and secure their fourth highest finish in the Premier League era.
But an honest Cattermole, a major injury doubt tomorrow after limping off with an ankle problem against the Baggies, says a 12th placed finish would be far from a fair representation of Sunderland’s season and insists he is simply happy to have avoided relegation.
Cattermole said: “I think finishing 12th would be a bit of a false position really.
“From where we’ve been, I wouldn’t say 12th is where we should be finishing.
“We need to be realistic and realise how close we’ve come (to relegation) and what we’ve done to be in the position we’re in.
“I would have taken a point from the last two games and finished 17th.”
A party atmosphere is expected at the Stadium of Light tomorrow following a remarkable four weeks in which Sunderland have become only the second team in Premier League history to survive after being bottom of the league at Christmas.
But Cattermole insists the buoyancy around the club should not mask the problems which have been apparent in Sunderland’s ranks this season.
“We’ve got to look to improve and start next season how we’ve finished this season,” added the 26-year-old.
“It’s nice when things are going well because people look for all the good points.
“But there’s been a lot of bad times when things haven’t gone well and we’ve played well in games, but haven’t got that goal.
“I remember Crystal Palace, Norwich and Aston Villa at home when we dominated, but couldn’t get in front.
“We haven’t had a player whose scored 15 or 20 goals and that makes such a big difference.
“Connor (Wickham) has done great, but we need that from the start of the season. That’s one thing we’ve lacked all season.”