The king is dead, so long live the king.
After England’s Euro 2016 horror, the FA put Sunderland in a fairly damaging position for a few days. As English football’s glorious leaders pondered whether or not it was a good idea to make Sam Allardyce the poor unfortunate who will be clasping his lips around the most poisoned of chalices for the next few years, Sunderland were left in limbo. Did they have a manager or did they not have a manager?
In the end, Sam left and Sunderland moved with impressive speed and slickness to point David Moyes in the direction of the revolving managerial door that sits outside Sunderland’s training ground.
To stay up last season was a real achievement for Sunderland, not least as their outgoing manager Dick Advocaat lamented that their squad wasn’t good enough to avoid relegation.
The fact that they did manage it – and relegate Newcastle in the process – was down in no small part to the organisational skills of Sam Allardyce who managed to make the Black Cats hard enough to beat defensively whilst harnessing the goalscoring power of Jermain Defoe.
It’s a formula that David Moyes will surely be looking to emulate.
If you’d asked this question before the Euros, you’d probably have given a very positive answer, such were the good vibes around the Stadium of Light.
And although the nucleus of the squad is still intact, it’s becoming fairly worrying that David Moyes only has 14 senior outfield players at the moment, and with no signings made yet.
Success will probably amount to avoiding relegation, once again, but with the right signings, Sunderland should be able to look up rather than down this time.
As you can see from the fact that Moyes only has 14 outfield players, it’s not gone too well. The managerial question was a severe distraction, not least in the player recruitment department, and although David Moyes was installed fairly quickly, new arrivals haven’t yet happened.
On the other hand, Moyes does have two weeks before the start of the season, and a whole month until the end of the transfer window, so there shouldn’t be any panic as to whether or not they’ll actually make those signings.
The problem lies more in the amount of time the new manager will have to get those new players ready, with the start of the season starting to loom.
Last term is was Jermain Defoe, and given that the squad hasn’t changed much, you’d expect him to remain their talismanic goal-getter this season, too.
Defoe managed 15 goals last season for a team who only avoided relegation because of some good form in the final weeks. It’s a huge tally, to be frank, and even though he’s now 33 years of age – and will be 34 in October – he still knows where the goal is.
Maybe the priority should be to find a new key man to take the reins soon, but for now, Defoe is the real talisman.
He made only nine starts last season, and Sunderland didn’t win once when he did, so you could say that Jack Rodwell’s contribution last season was minimal.
£10m doesn’t seem like an awful lot (yes, football is crazy) for a Premier League club to spend on a player these days, especially when you see some of the fees bandied about. That makes Rodwell one tenth of a Paul Pogba, and perhaps that’s totally accurate – but he’s still one of the most expensive signings in Sunderland’s history.
But it was David Moyes who gave him his chance at Everton when he broke through and earned a career-wrecking move to Manchester City, so maybe a reunion with Moyes is exactly what he needs to reignite his career – possibly even in the centre of the defence.