Sunderland finished bottom of the Premier League last season after picking up only 24 points over the course of the whole season.
The club had been teetering on the brink for a number of years but finally lost their place in the top flight after winning only 6 out of 38 games. They were tipped to mount a push for an instant return this season but their start to life in England’s second tier has been nothing short of disastrous.
After David Moyes departed the Stadium of Light, Ellis Short and co set about trying to find the right man to guide them back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. They plumped for Simon Grayson who had done a superb job at Preston. After two draws and a win from their opening 3 games, you could have been forgiven for thinking that Sunderland were just finding their feet in the division but then came four straight defeats. In fact, Sunderland have lost six out of their last seven league games.
So they currently sit in 22nd place after 10 games played. They’ve won once, drawn thrice and lost six times. They’ve also got the second worse defensive record in the division too. This is relegation form and these are relegation stats by anybody’s standards. So at this early stage, is it really time to panic? Well, after their latest defeat, a 5-2 battering by Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town, you’d probably say it is. They’re facing the very real possibility that a second successive relegation is on the cards.
Simon Grayson has proved himself a very capable manager in this division for a number of years and Sunderland don’t have one of the worst squads in the league, so you have to question where it has all gone wrong. Many suggest that it’s the recruitment over the last few seasons. Players came in who just failed to deliver and as soon as things started to go wrong, it was evident they weren’t up for the fight, with many jumping ship after relegation.
There were always going to be departures from the Stadium of Light after they lost their Premier League status, with Jordan Pickford leaving to join Everton for a fee close to £30 million. The problem is that players have left, money has come into the club but they have spent very little in the way of rebuilding. They’ve spent less than £2 million, preferring to operate in the loan and free transfer market. This is all well and good but the loyal supporters expect a promotion push after last season’s disappointment and this looks extremely unlikely.
Next up for the Black Cats are Preston, Grayson’s former side. They’re doing well under the stewardship of Alex Neil and will certainly be up for heaping more misery on their old manager and his new team. Sunderland fans will be hoping that somehow they can dig themselves out of the rut they are currently in and to then start moving up the league table. Right now though, that looks extremely unlikely.