Sunderland Premier League Preview
Players In: Carlos Cuellar, Louis Saha
Players Out: George McCartney, Asamoah Gyan, Michael Turner, Jordan Cook, Trevor Carson, Marcos Angeleri, Michael Liddle
Martin O’Neill came in last season with a bloated squad struggling under Steve Bruce. In ten games Martin O’Neill’s side picked up 22 points and subsequently reached an FA Cup Quarter Final beating Arsenal on the way. They then had a torrid end to the season not winning any of their last eight games. Which side will appear this season?
In James McClean the Fans have a new hero who plays with passion and the directness that had been missed at the Stadium of Light for quite a while. The problem for McClean will be who to find in the box after the departures of Bendtner back to Arsenal and Gyan permanently to Al Ain. Connor Wickham is young whilst Louis Saha will remain an if only player.
If Frazier Campbell can find enough belief and avoid any further serious injuries then he may fulfil the potential that saw him earn an England cap towards the end of last season. A lot will rest on his young shoulders and damaged knee and Martin O’Neill will hope he will be able to complete something like 30 games if there are to be no more additions to this squad.
First game analysis:
Martin O’Neil took his work-in-progress squad to the Emirates and got exactly what he asked for; a clean sheet and one point. Arsenal have struggled against O’Neil teams and Saturday was no different, Giroud fluffing the onlychance afforded by a resolute Man United old boys defence. Sunderland look woefully equipped going forward and having left their transfers this late will have to pay a premium to prise players from other clubs. Adam Johnson would be a great signing from Man City, but the whispers of Steven Fletcher for £14 million confirm how desperate Sunderland are to bolster their attacking options.
The Martin O’Neill factor is well-documented but can he take this squad and turn them from also-rans into European contenders? This season looks unlikely as there are still a number of players that are probably a little away from what is required but with so much Premier League experience they should be able to secure mid table fairly early on in the season and look to the cups for excitement.