Slumbering Sunderland Again Flattering To Deceive

Posted: August 20, 2015 in Football
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Dick Advocaat

Where’s the fun in mid-table mediocrity anyway?

Another season is underway and it already appears to be another year of foreboding and despair for anybody affiliated with Sunderland, with their opening two Premier League games having yielded zero points and seeing seven goals already conceded.

This has not been against top sides you would expect to be fighting for honours either. Leicester City and Norwich City have been the beneficiaries thus far; two sides heavily reckoned by pundits throughout the country to be figuring within the confines of the bottom three come the season’s conclusion, let alone simply embroiled within the relegation battle.

I wrote briefly within my pre-season predictions that Sunderland always look like they have a squad capable of being a comfortable mid-table side, but somehow find themselves struggling at the wrong end of the table, with the last two seasons seeing two new managers drafted in to save them from increasingly hopeless looking situations.

Yet for some reason I still found myself in a position where I backed Sunderland to survive comfortably, looking at their squad and being suitably impressed to suggest they would be strong enough to see off the promoted trio, and weaker members of the league – like Leicester.

They seemed to have a decent balance within their squad. They had some expensive foreign imports with international experience, like Emanuele Giaccherini and Jeremain Lens, both with plenty of caps for major nations in Italy and Netherlands respectively.

Emanuele Giaccherini

Emanuele Giaccherini has failed to justify the excitement upon his signing from Juventus

They have a number of players with plenty of Premier League experience at the top level such as Jermaine Defoe and John O’Shea, ably backed up but plenty of other players with many years in the top flight, with Lee Cattermole, Adam Johnson and Sebastian Larsson.

Added to that they have a number of players brought up from the Championship, like Liam Bridcutt and Will Buckley, and younger players eager to make their mark in the Premier League. This all put together should quite frankly equal a well-balanced squad capable of dealing with the stragglers in the division and the capabilities to produce upsets among the elite as well.

Just two weeks into the season and two abysmal defeats later and that assessment of the squad has been re-written throughout the media. Sunderland now have a bloated squad made up of expensive imports who cannot handle the pace and physicality of the Premier League, has-beens whose best has long gone and Championship players not good enough for this level.

Foolishly I even though Younes Kaboul might actually work out for them, in the same way that he rejuvenated his career at Portsmouth following his first disastrous spell at Tottenham Hotspur. After falling down the pecking order and having his attitude questioned at Spurs, one thought maybe things might pick up a bit again for him after dropping down to a place where expectations aren’t maybe so high. His performance against Norwich is already suggesting that this is a man who only plays well under the guidance of Harry Redknapp.

Younes Kaboul

Younes Kaboul has yet to impress since his summer arrival from Spurs

Speaking of the manager, I felt early on that Dick Advocaat was a more rational appointment than the livewires of Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet, but other opinions have suggested that view displayed the same short-termism as Sunderland have.

This after all was a manager who was more intent on retiring from football to spend more time with his family and had to be convinced to take the job. The Dutchman has only accepted a one-year deal to help steady the ship, something that will hardly motivate players on three-year contracts to prove their credentials.

Calls have already been made to splash the cash in order to fix this mess, but owner Ellis Short must be tired of pumping his money into the club without seeing any return on his money. Summer after summer Sunderland often prove to be one of the highest spenders outside the top six, yet continue to be one of the weakest squads in the division. It is something that must baffle the American owner.

So what is the solution for Sunderland? The manager can hardly be blamed after spending two months convincing him to commit. The players are all what the club wanted to bring in, with or without consultation with the manager.

Yet they seem doomed to spend their existence in this constant spiral in which the club looks set to break out of their funk and truly establish themselves as a Premier League side, yet always flatters to deceive and has to take drastic action to avoid relegation.

A constant cycle that has seen the fans already vote with their feet, their first home game of the season having a sparse crowd come the end as a very kind opening pair of fixtures have produced zero points and seven goals conceded when anyone would have predicted a minimum of four points for a side that should be stronger than it is.

I, among many, felt Sunderland should be comfortably mid-table again. But quite frankly it has come as no surprise for things to turn on its head so quickly.

For Sunderland fans, it is the hope that kills you. And the Black Cats are running out of lives.

  1. […] Slumbering Sunderland Again Flattering To Deceive […]

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