During the summer, it appeared as if the future for Sunderland looked bright. Steady signings and an experienced squad indicated that Martin O’Neill’s side would have a strong season, and a top-half table finish was in their sights. 16 games in and the Black Cats have only managed two league victories at home this season, earning nine points out of a possible 24. Only bottom-of-the-table QPR have a worse home record. A victory against Reading last night is a start, but will this momentum continue much longer for Sunderland?
“We are far from out of trouble” – Martin O’Neill, Sunderland manager.
Those are the worrying words from the former Leicester City and Aston Villa manager as he feels his Sunderland side are still firmly in a relegation battle, despite a comfortable and dominating 3-0 victory over Reading on Tuesday night. Despite moving up to 15th place in the table, Sunderland’s poor outlet of goalscorers has resulted in the Black Cats lying just three points from the relegation zone.
Relying on summer signing Steven Fletcher for goals this season is quite clearly, as seen so far this season, not sufficient enough for a Premier League quality side. Furthermore, disappointing performances throughout the season from wingers James McClean and Adam Johnson heaps the pressure on Sunderland’s woes.
A weak defence with Irish international John O’Shea, who should be performing to a much better standard considering his experience, at the helm would make most Sunderland call for the times of the abysmal Titus Bramble.
It is very important for sides to gain a stretch of momentum in the league to have any hope of Premier League football the following season. Despite a disappointing start to the season, if there is any man to turn around Sunderland’s fortunes, that man is Martin O’ Neill.