Safe. Safe by the skin of their teeth. Sunderland are the new stars of the great escape. Sam Allardyce was brought in to to save Sunderland and the Black Cats, and with the assistance of Jermain Defoe, he managed to reach safety, even before the final game of the season.
However, the current state at Sunderland is not really sustainable. The quality in the team is insufficient to really compete in the Premier League and one day soon that their last ditch end of season recovery will not be enough. It takes time to really build a side and Sunderland are, at best, treading water right now. There have been no real signs of improvement.
‘Big Sam’ will argue against that, but the team has notable weaknesses and, with the huge TV investment, they are likely to be overtaken by several of their Premier League rivals this season. The pressure is truly on.
Yo-yo-ing down to the Championship and back up doesn’t reflect a club heading in the right direction.
So, we’ll give you a hand ‘Big Sam’. Get rid of these FIVE for a start…
The ex-Manchester United defender is now 36 years old and it is time that Sunderland moved on.
Lamine Kone, John O’Shea and Younes Kaboul have made the centre-back positions their own throughout the final few games of this season and it would be beneficial to replace Brown with someone younger. Allardyce did good business in the January window and there is no reason he can’t attract another gem to replace Brown.
Billy Jones has been a tireless worker for Sunderland for several seasons now and he has seldom let them down.
However, if Allardyce is to persevere with a back five, he may want to look towards an upgrade in the right wing-back position. DeAndre Yedlin’s loan will end this summer and there are plenty of alternatives to Jones that could give the side an extra attacking dimension on that flank.
Hard to justify selling Defoe after his prolific end to the season? Yes, yes it is.
Well, considering the length of his contract it would make a fair bit of sense. After such a campaign there will be teams keen to secure the striker’s signature and it would be a way of freeing up Defoe’s currently hefty wages for a new star forward.
Jan Kirchhoff, Yann M’Vila and Lee Cattermole seem to have monopolised the midfield roles in Allardyce’s starting XI.
Meanwhile, Larsson has struggled to nail down a place in the team and, unless he can reinvent himself as a permanent wing-back, it would make sense to replace him with a younger, livelier model.
Gomez’s loan for the end of the season shows how much Allardyce valued him in the squad (not much). The Spaniard can be quite a threat on his day and has an eye for a pass that is so crucial to sides in the bottom half of the table.
However, moving on players like Gomez would be hugely beneficial to the squad as they look to freshen up. The 30-year-old is by no means a veteran, but it would open up a space for either a homegrown youngster or a spritely signing to spice up the attacking options.