By Alex McMahon
Sunderland are in deep trouble this season
After flirting with relegation for a number of years, this could be Sunderland’s time to drop out of the Premier League. The Black Cats have lost both of their opening two fixtures, conceding seven goals in the process. Sunderland’s players look short of confidence, their fans short of belief and their manager short of ideas. Newcastle United, Sunderland’s bitterest rivals, showed plenty of similar signs last season but ultimately had just enough quality to avoid the drop.
This Sunderland side simply aren’t good enough and if the club fails to invest, they will be relegated this season – it’s that simple. There is still time to rectify their off-season mistakes but that window is closing rapidly, and the Black Cats must act quickly if they are to stand any chance of avoiding the drop. Unfortunately for Sunderland, however, it may already be too late. Here are just a few of the key reasons why Sunderland could – and will – be relegated this season.
The Black Cats have failed to invest wisely in the transfer market (so far)
Sunderland are one of the weakest sides in the Premier League and, despite glaring signs of trouble last season, have not invested heavily enough this summer. Former Tottenham Hotspur defender Younes Kaboul is not, and has never been, good enough to play week-in, week-out while Sebastian Coates’ defensive qualities are suspect to say the least.
If their embarrassing 3-1 home defeat to newly promoted Norwich City hasn’t convinced Sunderland’s board that huge changes are needed, then there is something seriously wrong at the Stadium of Light. According to reports, Dick Advocaat was promised ‘four, five or six new players’ this summer. Sunderland have brought five new faces into the club, but they’ve invested poorly. With less than two weeks until the transfer window slams shut, the Black Cats must act quickly to give themselves a shot at survival.
They have lost their opening two fixtures against bottom-half sides
When the fixtures were released, Sunderland’s fans will have expected at least three points from their opening two matches. The away trip to Leicester City was always going to be tricky but there was absolutely no excuse for their defensive capitulation in the opening 30 minutes of the game.
Sunderland’s fans were well within their rights to expect a backlash in their opening home game of the season against Norwich City yet they were forced to bear witness to more shoddy defending at the Stadium of Light. Whilst giving the utmost respect to the Canaries, Sunderland were woeful and produced a far too similar performance in front of their home fans. Whether the manager, the players or the board is at fault, their fans deserve much better.
Sunderland’s “survival” instinct has to die at some point
The Black Cats have been on the cusp of relegation in each of the past three seasons, finishing shy of the ‘magic’ 40 points total that is widely regarded as the figure that will guarantee Premier League survival. However, their luck will eventually run out. Wigan Athletic managed to avoid the drop for three seasons before accepting their fate the following season, now Sunderland could follow suit at the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
Connor Wickham, the man at the heart of Sunderland’s survival last season, has left the club. While this isn’t a disaster in itself, it shows a lack of belief throughout the club. At 22 years old, Wickham is one of England’s brightest youngsters and is capable of producing individual moments of magic. Wickham’s destination? Crystal Palace. It could be argued that Sunderland are the bigger club but crucially, Palace are moving in the right direction while the Black Cats continue to linger around the drop zone.
Dick Advocaat was a great short term solution, but that’s about it
The Sunderland manager did a terrific job at the back end of last season, losing just two of their seven matches before securing their top flight status with a 0-0 draw away at Arsenal. That should have been that. However, the Sunderland board offered Advocaat a one-year contract ahead of this season and the Dutchman, after much deliberation, accepted the offer.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but Sunderland’s decision to offer Advocaat a permanent position was a baffling one. While the 67-year-old has enjoyed plenty of success throughout his career, he has never managed in England’s top flight. The Black Cats should have looked for a younger, more experienced Premier League manager to take the helm and could pay the ultimate price of relegation. At the time of writing, Advocaat is the 10/11Add to betslip favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his postthis season.
They are giving away cheap goals and lack motivation, concentration and determination
Ultimately, Sunderland’s biggest problem is their commitment, motivation and concentration… or should I say, lack of commitment, motivation and concentration. The Black Cats have paid the price for sloppy, non-committal efforts in recent weeks and will continue to do so until they begin to show some passion and desire. Sunderland’s general play is far too slow and lacks directness, meaning that opposing sides can defend easily against their attacks.
For Sunderland to stand a chance at survival, they need an injection of pace, determination and drive. Other than Adam Johnson, the Black Cats lack an attacking midfielder that is willing to take people on and commit defenders. Sunderland are, on the most part, predictable, easy to play against and – for want of a better word – boring to watch. And unless these three things change, the Black Cats look destined to drop down to the Championship at the end of the campaign.
Do you think Sunderland will be relegated this season or can the Black Cats survive once again? Let us know your thoughts!