Sunderland’s fortunes after Dick Advocaat took over in March changed dramatically, whereas Newcastle United’s end-of-season run saw them come perilously close to dropping out of the top-flight.
The Dutch coach took over the Black Cats in mid-March following the sacking of former boss Gus Poyet, with the club just one point above the drop zone.
Confidence was drained after a 4-0 home loss to fellow relegation rivals Aston Villa, and Advocaat’s debut was another hit on morale as West Ham condemned them to a last-minute 1-0 defeat at Upton Park.
Meanwhile, rivals Newcastle were beginning to show their vulnerability ahead of the ensuing North East derby with three defeats on spin including a harsh, last-minute loss to Manchester United.
The close encounter at the Stadium of Light arguably played a huge role in the season run-in as the hosts’ 1-0 victory served as a springboard for a miraculous turnaround – and the chance for the Sunderland fans to send a rather comical plane banner over St James’ Park.
As per the table provided by Opta Stats, the Magpies, in contrast, saw their confidence hit rock-bottom and a record-equalling eight-game losing streak soon saw them hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Advocaat’s side, however, were still not safe and many leading pundits such as Michael Owen still tipped them for a return to the Championship owing to their tough season finale.
Yet, successive wins over Southampton and Everton, plus a draw at home to Leicester City, preserved their top-flight status and momentarily put them ahead of Newcastle before the final game of the season.
Advocaat’s job was done – and what a fine job too as the former Rangers boss accumulated more points than nine other Premier League teams during his short stint, including Liverpool.
Newcastle, on the other hand, managed to stave off relegation with a final-day victory but the humiliating past few months will be hard to shake off.