What Do Sunderland Need to do in Order to Guarantee Safety?


Three games, one point, and blame thrown in every possible direction — Sunderland are continuing to perpetuate their infamous title as annual relegation candidates.

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That being said, there’s 35 games left in this season. Their is still time for improvement, something the Black Cats will need to do to make vaulting out of relegation a not so insurmountable task. It’s just a matter of what — exactly — Sunderland need to do.

The road most traveled when considering this issue would be to blame the transfer policy of Black Cats’ chairman Ellis Short. Many of the Sunderland faithful believe that the Chairman has misplaced his wallet as the club’s summer spending has been considerably less lustrous than that of the teams around them.

Naturally, higher standards of players demand higher fees and salaries — money is power in modern football — and a lack of spending results in a side with less quality and thus more likely chance for struggles during the campaign.

However, Ellis Short recently released a statement in Sunderland’s matchday program prior to their home fixture against Swansea City in which he denied allegations that he is reluctant to spend in order to improve the squad as well as his desire to pursue a higher standard of football.

"“The assertion that I have been unwilling to spend money to fulfill the ambitions of the club and it’s fans is completely wrong. Every penny that comes from TV income and other commercial activities is spent on operating the club — that is, buying players, wages, and other associated costs. I have never taken money out of the club.”"

If this is to be believed, then surely Ellis Short is giving Sunderland maximal financial backing and is acting selflessly in his efforts to do so. To accept this statement as truthful is to subsequently deny any claims that the American owner is devoid of ambition.

Could it then be the manager, Dick Advocaat, and the tactical setup he has implemented this season?

In their first two matches against Leicester City and Norwich City, Sunderland were in shambles. The main cause of concern has to be the defense of the side — with Sunderland having conceded seven goals over the course of these two fixtures.

Questions have been raised as to whether or not the defensive disarray has come about due to the absence of veteran and former-captain John O’Shea, — who was stripped of his captain’s armband by Dick Advocaat and reduced to the bench — whilst Lee Cattermole was entrusted to lead the team.

This didn’t seem to work out for the best. Younes Kaboul has thus far failed to impress following his move from Tottenham for an estimated £3 million. Since his arrival at the Stadium of Light, Kaboul has misplaced 33 passes so far — the most mistakes of any Premier League defender through the first two matches.

But the influence of John O’Shea seemed to bring a lot more composure during Sunderland’s 1-1 draw with Swansea City, perhaps meaning that the presence of the former Manchester United man is exactly what the Black Cats need to restore some confidence and at least give their fans 90 minutes of dignified football, rather than just crumbling once they fall behind.

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Attacking options are something Sunderland need as well — and in all fairness have been needed for several seasons now — but as previously stated that is dependent on what Ellis Short does with whatever finances are available — the money from the selling of Connor Wickham to Crystal Palace being a particular highlight here.

Sunderland have the squad numbers of #9 and #10 vacant which could perhaps foreshadow the arrival of a couple new strikers, but as the financial situation with Ellis Short is ambiguous, it is uncertain whether or not money will be spent for whatever reason. It is also plausible that a loan option might have to suffice.

The Black Cats have managed five goals in their opening three matches which is respectable enough. However, if Sunderland are to continue to struggle defensively, then more offensively oriented players will be needed to restore a sense of self-belief and — ultimately — even the stakes.

This isn’t to say that the theories above are the concrete solutions, but instead just some suggestions. There are any number of reasons or variables that could say otherwise – but one thing that is for certain that improvement needs to be prominent and it needs to be now.

Next: Southampton Eyeing Andros Townsend

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