Once again Sunderland were able to fight off another relegation battle and remain a Premier League side for at least another season. With this now becoming a common occurrence, will they improve next season and stay away from the relegation zone?
After a comprehensive 3-0 home win against a lacklustre Everton, Sunderland were guaranteed to avoid the drop yet again in what seems typical for them over the last couple of seasons. To top it off they managed to do it at the expense of their north-east rivals Newcastle United, the same club that current Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce was sacked from back in 2008.
All of this seems to be a reoccurring theme for Sunderland who tend to leave it late on in the season to play their best football. They managed to survive last season with only a staggering seven league victories, although this is was helped with 17 draws too. Since they returned to the premier league in the 2007/08 season, they’ve only finished in the top half of the table once. That was in the 2009/10 season where they finished 10th and also got an impressive 47 points.
Since then Sunderland haven’t reached the same heights despite remaining in the top flight. The 2013/14 season was maybe their most surprising survival where they won four straight games right at the death including impressive victories at both Chelsea and Manchester United. That was done under the guidance of Gus Poyet after he replaced the characteristic Paolo Di Canio as manager earlier on that season.
It was very much the same the next season despite only losing one of their first seven league matches, before getting thumped 8-0 by Southampton. Poyet lasted until March 2015 when Dutchman Dick Advocaat took over and led them to a 16th place finish. Yet again they saved their best till last only losing two of their last eight league matches.
Once again there was an early managerial change in the season as Advocaat was replaced by Sam Allardyce in October 2015. This time round Sunderland have been on quite an astonishing run of form having only lost one of the their last ten league matches. A lot of that has been down to the form of English striker Jermain Defoe who’s scored an impressive 15 league goals.
For Sunderland to improve for next season they shouldn’t have to sign too many players as they have done previously. They spent over £30 million on players in the last two transfer windows. This also means any possible new signings would have limited time to gel together before the start of the season and Sunderland surly don’t won’t a repeat of the past few seasons. If they make do with the players they have and Sam Allardyce get’s them playing the way they have been recently, then they shouldn’t be involved in any relegation battle.
(images from various sources)