As a Sunderland fan, still fresh in my mind, is that glorious night at the Stadium of Light in April when victory over Everton confirmed Premier League status for another year (and lest not forget condemned arch rivals Newcastle to a place in the Championship). The mood amongst fans was the most positive I can remember, Big Sam Allardyce dancing around the pitch, a promise of new signings to build on the sturdy deals done in January and the realistic hope that at long last the days of last minute survival were behind the club.
Roll on the start of the 2016-2017 season and how things have changed. England crashing out at the Euro’s was doubley bad news for Sunderland fans as it resulted in the loss of the most popular manager the club has had since Peter Reid. The merry go round continued and David Moyes, with a point to prove, became the latest addition to the managerial ranks. Transfers failed to materialise and Moyes brought in questionable players for his United days. Suddenly, all those hopes had dashed.
When it comes to Sunderland the pattern has been the same for years…..struggle throughout the season – sack manager – survive. Its worked for Di Canio, Poyet, Advocaat….Allardyce left of his own accord but the trend is worrying. Surely, there comes a time when these last minute acts of great escape will run out! I remember as a young boy Southampton and Coventry always “just” survived and eventually they fell away. Is it the turn of the Black Cats?
A lot will rest of the fitness and form of Jermain Defoe. Without his goals last year Sunderland will have started this year playing in the Championship and with no real back up/partner to assist him, an injury or loss of form would be very worrying. Can he rescue the team again? Form suggests he may well, but teams at the lower end of the league relying on an ageing striker…..could be a recipe for disaster. It would take a gambling man to bet against Defoe! have a look at the odds on Free Super Tips
Kone is another vital tool in the cog as without him, considering the departure of Kaboul, the defence looks a little tame with an aging John O’Shea and a lot of unproven talent. Sunderland also need to ensure the core that drove the team last year, with Cattermole and Kirchoff (and hopefully a returning M’Vila) can power the team through. But, a wise betting man would look at the squad and see the lack of depth and quality to drive the team onward. You wonder where the goals will come from, where the creativity will emerge from and how they can get those much needed wins.
It would take a betting man to gamble against Sunderland escaping from relegation no matter how far they fall behind but it looks likely to be a very long season on Wearside and potentially the season in which Sunderland finally give up their Premier League status.