Sunderland half term report - doomed to relegation?

Here we look at Sunderland's performance so far this season, as they try to avoid relegation under new manager Gus Poyet.

Prediction at the start of the season

We predicted that it would be a bit of a surreal season for Sunderland under Paolo Di Canio but they would secure their Premier League status come May.

How have they been so far?

Abysmal but have improved ever since they changed manager but remain firmly rooted to the bottom of the table. They have closed the gap a little to those above them in the table but there is much work to do if they want to retain their Premier League status.

Manager rating?

We’ll give Di Canio a big fat zero for his time at the Stadium of Light earlier on in the season having only picked up a point before Gus Poyet arrived at the club. Poyet however has improved the side, they play with some more confidence and have picked up some wins but there is still much work for him to do. So far it’s 6/10.

Best game they’ve been involved in?

Sunderland 3-4 Chelsea - the defending wasn't great but they gave Chelsea a fright - which included Phil Bardsley scoring at both ends of the ground. It was a game proving they are worthy of a place in the Premier League but unfortunately for the Black Cats, there were no points to show for it. 

Their stand-out player?

Ki Sung Yeung. He has a lot of guile and is a potent midfielder that carries a goal threat. What a shame for Sunderland he is only there for the season (for now) but he is going to be key if they are to stay in the Premier League. 

New signings – how are they getting on?

Well, where do you start? There were just so many of them. Ki has probably been one of the stand out performers whilst some of them you don’t know where to start with them. Either way, the transfer policy undertaken during the summer transfer window has so far been a massive failure for the Black Cats. The likes of Altidore have thus far been a disappointment.

Most significant win of the season?

Sunderland 2-1 Newcastle United. It was their first win of the season in the league, their first win for Gus Poyet and it was against their fiercest rivals – though some would argue their win against Manchester City was just as if not more significant. After being pegged back following Steven Fletcher's opener, Fabio Borini delivered the goods with a wonderful strike late on.

Their low point so far?

West Brom 3-0 Sunderland, which ended up being Paulo Di Canio’s last game in charge of the club. What they didn't need was a former player coming back to haunt them immediately in the form of Stephane Sessegnon, which resulted at the end of the game in Di Canio practically asking the Sunderland fans what he should do.

Where do they need to strengthen in January?

They’re alright in terms of numbers but what they need is a bit of quality that is suited to the style of play deployed by Gus Poyet. If Poyet can get a couple of more players with a little more quality they could have a strong second half to the season. They may consider bringing in another full-back, which was a problem area for them in the summer as well.

What can we expect from them for the rest of the season?

It is going to be a struggle being bottom of the table halfway through the season but expect them to pick up points here and there and give survival a good go, but they are really going to be up against it. They need to go on a bit of a run.

image: © Rach

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