There are only 3 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Sunderland.
On the face of things, a 14th place finish in the Premier League and two decent cup runs looks like a successful season for the Black Cats. However, in reality they spent the majority of the season in the relegation zone in a miserable campaign until a late surge kept them afloat. Gus Poyet will be hoping for a much more comfortable year this time round.
Gus Poyet has plenty of Premier League experience, having played for both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, and is a highly rated up-and-coming manager. He enjoyed a very successful spell at the helm of Brighton and Hove Albion, although it ended sourly, and saved Sunderland from relegation as well as reaching the final of the League Cup.
Sunderland have made some decent additions to their squad so far, without spending too much money. Patrick van Aanholt has moved from Chelsea, having previously been out on loan, and should slot in at left-back. The Black Cats have also made three signings on three transfers: Costel Pantilimon, Billy Jones and Jordi Gomez. Of these, the biggest, both in terms of stature and reputation, is former Manchester City goalkeeper Pantilimon. The giant Romanian had a spell as Pellegrini’s number one keeper when Joe Hart suffered a dip in form and he performed admirably during his time between the sticks. He should prove to be a good addition for Gus Poyet.
Who is tipped to join them?
Poyet has expressed his concern at the lack of activity this window and the Black Cats haven’t been tipped to sign too many new faces. The main man believed to be on their radar is Fabio Borini from Liverpool, who was on loan to them last season, and they have agreed a fee of around £14 million to acquire his services. There has been a long wait to complete the transfer, however, and it is reported that Borini may prefer to stay on Merseyside.
Who should they sign?
The Black Cats look a little short in defence and will be keen to add some new recruits to bolster their squad. Poyet will be desperate for a new right-back in particular, especially having reportedly missed out on Carl Jenkinson, and Luis Pedro Cavanda is a potential option. Sunderland will also want competition at centre-back that Sebastian Bassong could provide.
Adam Johnson. At points last season, there were calls for Adam Johnson to return to the England setup after several impressive displays, however, they did not come often enough. On his day, he is a tough proposition for any opposing fullback and if he can find his best form more consistently then Sunderland will have no trouble avoiding relegation.
Sunderland appear to be building sensibly under Gus Poyet, who I believe is a good manager, and I think that we will see steady progress for the Black Cats over the next few seasons. I’m not expecting miracles by any stretch and think that they will actually finish a couple of places lower than last season but they should steer clear from relegation and have a more comfortable campaign. Expect Sunderland to finish 16th.