Jake: ‘how much are we all putting on a home win to start the season?’

Monsieur Salut writes: what were our honest expectations for the coming season on, say, Friday night? And 24 hours later, after SAFC 0-5 Celtic? Did they dip still lower after hearing Darron Gibson’s unwisely expressed assessment of the true level of commitment among the players at Simon Grayson’s disposal? Too many questions. Let’s see how an outsider views our prospects …


After a disastrous 2016-2017 season,
Sunderland face a difficult test in the Championship.

Having ended last season with only six wins and six draws in 38 Premier League matches, producing a measly of 24 points, the club has been focused on strengthening the squad in the summer transfer window.

The original idea may have been to find a side capable of gaining promotion once again to the Premier League. Unless the humiliation of Saturday’s final pre-season friendly proves a blip, the sights may now need to be lowered.


Sunderland are not the only big club in the second tier. Among those standing in the way of an instant return to the top are Aston Villa, Fulham, Hull City, Middlesbrough and Wolves. Winning Friday’s opening game at home to Derby County already looks a tall order and manager Simon Grayson realises competition will be tough with so many teams looking for promotion.

For the past 10 years, Sunderland have played in the Premier League.

The list of clubs vying for promotion shows the kind of company they will now be keeping.

In the past, it may have been easier for such clubs to gain promotion to the top flight. Now, many analysts describe the Championship as one of the toughest and most competitive leagues in the world, taking account of the drama and excitement it generates.

Sunderland have six top-flight title wins to their name. However, other Championship heavyweights such as Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest, with strong histories of their own, have the capability to upset recently relegated sides.

Perhaps Grayson does not concern himself too much with history. According to him, it may be that only the present situation matters – and that translates as the job of winning promotion.

Sunderland began the close season needing to make heavy recruitment. Grayson’s appointment came after a painfully slow search for a new manager and he arrived at a time when many saw the club as facing a major overhaul, with as many as 13 players set to leave.

If there are big name clubs in the Championship, there are also big name players. Grayson has managed more than 250 Championship games so should know his stuff. Despite doubts on whether the club has strong enough financial support to replace departing players, he should still – in addition to the signings already made – have quality targets who can recognise a club worth joining.

Before the Celtic debacle, some pundits believed Sunderland would win instant promotion. I’m keeping a close eye on Sun Bets to see what the football betting odds are for Sunderland to get promotion this season. Let’s hope the team can bring in some results for their fans!

Although last season was devastating, bookies thought it should be easy for them to win a promotion. Forget the pre-season ups and down; this is the primary reason why you should bet on Sunderland’s comeback even with uncertainty surrounding the future of their players.

But Sunderland must improve in all key areas and for that the club requires funds. Funds seem likely to be raised by selling players such as Lens and Khazri – to help recruitment. The key is to sign quality players, though many current players may wish to stay at the Stadium of Light in an attempt to make their way back to the Premier League.

But Grayson should not be shy in signing loan players and free agents if they are good enough. Loans have been shown to provide Championship clubs with quality players without making a dent in the transfer budget.

Huddersfield utilised this extremely well last season and earned promotion through the play offs; this may be something Sunderland should be looking at.

The key to doing well in the Championship is to not spend too much. History suggests that adding too many players to your squad can massively hurt the team morale. We saw this with Derby County in the 2015/16 season; they were in excellent form but after they unnecessarily signed more players in January, their season nosedived.

Bur Grayson will need a leader on the pitch as a role model to motivate the current and new set of players. One example is Lee Cattermole who has been at the Stadium of Light for a good part of his career. However, he has captained Sunderland through the tough times, so there may be a case for a fresh skipper to bring a new type of leadership to the squad.

Grayson realises that it will be diffcult to find top-notch strikers.

But Sunderland are in serious need of a reliable and recognised attacker who can carry the team as Jermain Defoe did. A decent striker could make the difference between a poor and a good campaign. It’s simple. Goals win games! Can Lewis Grabban, on loan from Bournemouth, provide them?

And as important as a striker is, Grayson also needs a strong midfield, players who not only run and dictate the game but score goals as well. Will new signing Aiden McGeady offer these qualities? Can Didier Ndong, young hopefuls such as George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch and even Cattermole rise to the challenge?

The answers to all of these questions, and whether Sunderland are serious promotion challengers or merely a club in transition, should become clear in the early part of the season about to begin.

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by – and principally for – supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

8 Responses to “After Celtic drubbing, should we bet on promotion or avoidance of relegation?” Subscribe

  1. malcolm July 31, 2017 at 3:26 pm #

    My expectations for the coming season were the same on Saturday night as they were on Friday. I don’t bet anyway, but if I did I wouldn’t bet on us going up or staying in the division. This is going to be a long hard season in my view and neither of the above is by any means certain. I expect the higher paid players to go and the signings so far don’t excite me.

    We’ll probably stay up simply because there will be other equally bad teams but I don’t think that’s a given.

  2. CSB July 31, 2017 at 6:04 pm #

    A very long and depressing season on the menu for Sunderland fans…….and probably not just one but several judging by this latest performance collapse. But lets take it one at a time for the reasons why:

    1. That was ultimately a Celtic second string side that showed all the hunger, commitment and desire for the shirt so tragically missing from our own team.

    2. Gibson, a drunken rant or drunks never lie…….a lot of it, expletives included, sounded all too familiar, the caustic atmosphere at the Club continues to dominate.

    3. Not a single signing to light up the support, or a well deserved and good riddance departure……they know who they are (Kone, Rodwell, Lens etc). The return of very average loan players not good enough to make the grade in last seasons piss poor squad.

    4. An owner yet again chancing another very risky roll of dice….no cash, no heart in it, no interest other than to sell for not too much of a loss.

    5. God the list is just endless………and it is the never ending, never changing story of SAFC under the current ownership and board.

    I don’t blame Grayson, he has what he has to work with and with all of the above being touted around very publicly what chance, never mind the lack of funds, of attracting anything other than past their best journeymen, neverwasers, and potential green talent.

    God, the season hasn’t even started yet and I am already bloody sick of it, thank god there is reduced coverage of this division because I don’t have to waste time watching that excuse of a mercenary football team supposedly representing my home town. I feel very sorry for the youngsters coming through to have to see this.

    Glass half full/ half empty……no just the usual low alcohol reality that kicks in supporting this club.

  3. Tom, Sunderland July 31, 2017 at 6:35 pm #

    Dear me, CSB, you’re in a bit of a state. Ever the optimist, I am trying to look for any positives in this dreadful situation but even I am struggling. One thing does stand out to me as something to hang on to however. There is nothing going on here that can’t be fixed by one man – Ellis Short.
    The main problem, by a country mile, is lack of leadership. The club is drifting downwards, bad things are happening and nobody is doing anything about it. Short has the power to put that right in an instant. If he stepped up to the plate and actually offered help to his manager some of these issues would disappear straight off. Even if he doesn’t mean it, the club would be instantly stabilised if Short was to commit himself and show a backbone in sorting out staff who disrespect their employers.
    Too much to expect? Probably, but it would also be in his interests to act. Just 16 months ago his club was worth an apparent £180 million. He now seems willing to sell for half that. It doesn’t make sense – he would be far better off riding the storm and building up again, surely. But what do we know of such things? One thing us fans CAN do is write to the boss man and implore him to commit himself, if only for the short term.

    • CSB August 1, 2017 at 9:01 am #

      Tom,

      Not really in a state, just being realistic about the situation that we find ourselves in, a situation that we have been in for far longer than we should have been had we had competent leadership.

      We don’t and have not had ever since Ellis took over the reigns of control. We have been on a perpetual downward spiral and not Ellis or anybody else in the management are capable of pulling us up out of the dive.

      It’s as simple as that, so don’t expect any change in our fortunes any time soon.

  4. Scott July 31, 2017 at 6:42 pm #

    This is the exact reason why Celtic are good enough to cut it in the championship at least for the first two seasons, the money in English football has ruined quality scouting and been replaced with panic buys for fear of a manager losing thier job. The league is rife with this and Celtic would be a breath of fresh air, a club run properly within its means, proper scouting no excess speniding and a club in profit with no debt. English clubs could learn a lesson from the Celtic model, the clubs may have the money but are totally irresponsible with it and the fans are paying for it.

  5. david miller August 1, 2017 at 8:35 am #

    I agree with your analysis of how clubs should be run Scott, but having Celtic in our league would also mean having their fans and I would not want that.

  6. Scott August 2, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

    Apart from these muppets bringing Celtic into disrepute, The majority of Celtic fans are not like these idiots. Every club unfortunately has an element of people that say they support a club then do do things to diminish it’s reputation it is sad in today’s world. The best atmosphere hairs on the back of the neck up was Celtic v Liverpool everyone singing you’ll never walk alone it was electric. That is is what clubs want.

  7. Robbo August 3, 2017 at 7:31 am #

    I think we are about to see the start of a period of stability within the club.A solid manager with a solid,if unspectacular squad that will finish close to and maybe get into the play-offs.
    I am also hoping that we see some of our academy players establish themselves in the first team.IMO they could be the future as they will be the ones that will buy into the club that they have been apart of for years,rather than those imports that are just here for the money.

    And if we have to sell one or two to balance the books then so be it,so long as we have otherswaiting in the wings.

    The base for Manchester United’success started with the conveyor belt of home grown talent ….Beckham,Giggs ,Scholes to name just three.

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