The phrase has an uncomfortable resonance. Kanoute, Cole, Di Canio, Defoe, Johnson, Sinclair, Les Ferdinand - how could a team blessed with such talent possibly drop out of the top division? Well Allardyce knows, because Allardyce's Bolton condemned us to relegation; and Sullivan and Gold know, because Sullivan and Gold's Birmingham drove the final nail into our relegation coffin in the last game of that miserable, miserable season, a game we had to win but drew 2-2.
The trouble that year was an imbalanced squad. Yes the team was blessed with genius, but at the heart of the defence there was a void, and for all the talent in the team, there was a shortage of steel outside of Repka and Lomas. The team was almost all silk with very little backbone.
Well here we go again. Joe Cole is common to both teams, of course, and it would be a sad postscript on his unfulfilled career if it were to be sandwiched by two relegations with the club he claims to love. And outside of Cole, there is Morrison, Rat, Reid, Downing, Noble and Carroll - all far too good to be relegated! But are they?
Downing has been relegated before. So has Joe Cole. And Winston Reid. And Mark Noble. And Andy Carroll. And, of course, Tomkins, Jussi, O'Brien, Jarvis, Collison, Jussi, Taylor, Vaz Te, Carlton Cole and Kevin Nolan. Too good to be relegated? This team is cut from relegation cloth!
Yesterday's game was terrifying. For 45 minutes we bossed the match in a way I cannot remember us bossing a game. I posted at half time that it was like an exhibition game. We were the Harlem Globe Trotters and Norwich were a bunch of stiffs sharing the arena just to make us look good. At half time it could have been 4-0 and should have been 2-0 at the very least. Our control and domination were total.
So what the hell happened? Well first of all, this team can't score goals. You know it, I know it, Allardyce refuses to admit it, and ultimately Chris Hughton knew it. His instruction at half time was straightforward - get higher up the pitch, press the man on the ball, don't worry about gaps at the back, we can give them four chances and they won't take more than one.
I knew what was coming. At half time I wrote, "To be honest, the biggest worry is that Norwich will press us higher in the second half and one of Tomkins, Collins, Noble, Collison, Morrison or Demel will be caught in possession. Delia's darlings might as well be hung for a mutton stew as for a lamb casserole after all, so worrying about gaps at the back may now be off the agenda." OK, I didn't identify the right culprit, but based on his performances so far this season, who would have expected Jussi to hand the equalizing goal on a plate to Norwich?
That Jussi mistake was as bad as anything Green ever did and he compounded it with the unnecessary challenge which invited the award of the penalty. But why the hell did that goal make such a difference? It should have been a blip. Normal service should have been restored immediately. Like the Harlem Globe Trotters, we should have just stepped up a gear, re-established a lead and then cruised through to victory. But suddenly everything fell apart. Suddenly nobody was able to find space. Suddenly Norwich were dominating possession. Suddenly we were a complete shambles.
Then came that free kick. What the hell was Jussi up to? He left so much of the goal unguarded that I could have stepped up and scored. Bloody hell, my 82 year old mother might have fancied her chances! If the guy can't defend free kicks - and the evidence is clear that he can't - then we have to stand a defender on a post to help him.
What followed was humiliating. Carlton Cole is a shot bolt. Bringing him on is ludicrous. Taking off Joe Cole was madness, meanwhile. He has a goal in him, unlike Carlton and Diame and Jarvis. As soon as Joe departed, all hope of victory evaporated. Fine, bring on Mo, but don't take off Joe - Jack Collison was the obvious choice.
And then removing Noble? Crazy. Look how exposed Tomkins was for the third goal! And who was knitting our game together in the last five minutes?
Yesterday's result should be a wake up call to all those who believe that the possibility of relegation is unthinkable. Without Reid, our defence is little better than the defence of 2002-03 - and Reid is out for a stretch; and without Carroll we don't have an attack, never mind an attack to compare with Defoe, Kanoute and Di Canio!
But let's not worry. We have Joe Cole. And Defoe may return in January. And if some idiots have their way, Di Canio could replace Allardyce!
Who finished bottom in 2002-03? Sunderland.
This is getting spooky!
Player Ratings First Half: Jussi 6; Demel 8, Tomkins 7, Collins 6, Rat 9; Noble 8, Morrison 8, Nolan 7, Collison 7, Downing 7, Cole 7
Player Ratings Second Half: Jussi 0; Demel 6, Tomkins 4, Collins 5, Rat 6; Noble 6, Morrison 6, Nolan 4, Collison 5, Downing 3, Joe Cole 4; Subs: Diame 4, Carlton 0, Jarvis 1.