There are so many season previews out there right now and they all follow the same format. So at Eevee we thought we’d try something a bit different and move away from the optimism and bias from fans answering on their own team and instead concentrate on the negativity and hatred that makes football what it is!
Here lifelong Magpie Dan Wilson evaluates the Mackems and the potential sideshow of Di Canio…
Which player do you reluctantly admire?
Last season I really admired Danny Rose. He was solid at the back and a decent threat going forward. Shame he’s no longer there! This season I admire Jack Colback. He has a good work ethic, very neat on the ball and is a born and bred Geordie who grew up in the same area as me.
Which player do you out-and-out despise and why?
It used to be James McClean (those eyes are not natural), so I’ll have to opt for Lee Cattermole. He would be more suited to the MMA circuit than a football pitch. He is playing well above his level. He has no technical ability. Every time I’ve watched him play he seems to give the ball away and then resorts to reckless tackles. His reputation now precedes him (thankfully!). If Di Canio decides to get rid (which has been rumoured) then Seb Larsson can take his place due to being a one trick pony who is also playing above his natural level.
What’s the best-case (ie worst-case) outcome for them this season?
Relegation. If the form of last season carries on into 2013/14 (winning only 2 of their last 15 games) then relegation could be a very distinct possibility. A few Sunderland fans think a top half finish is possible. It isn’t.
How would you assess their transfer activity?
Di Canio has brought in 10 players. The majority of them are completely unknown. Giacherrini could be a very shrewd purchase if he settles in to the pace of the Premier League. Altidore was a major flop the last time he appeared in the Premier League. His return of 2 goals in 30 games for Hull is nothing short of embarrassing for an international striker. His goal tally from last season seems credible but the Eredivisie is a weaker league. He could turn out to be like ‘prolific’ former Middlesbrough striker Afonso Alves. The new squad need to gel. Strikers can work on instinct but midfielders and centre-backs especially need to form partnerships to become successful.
Beneath the bravado are there any lingering concerns?
Major concerns. From the last 10 games of the 2012/13 season Sunderland only picked up 9 points and scored 10 goals. Di Canio came in and turned Newcastle over at their ground which increased the fans expectations and gave him instant ‘hero’ status on Wearside. It has also provided a smokescreen to deep problems.
As mentioned above, Di Canio has been very active in the transfer market but, with the exception of Giacherrini, they could all prove to be risky purchases. It smacks of a desperate attempt to polish a turd.
Do they have the right (ie wrong) man in the hot-seat?
Absolute perfection. A tempermental, hot-headed manager who thinks he is better than he actually is in charge of a club whose fans think they are better than they actually are. If the going gets tough there could be fireworks.
Sunderland have a relatively easy opening 6 fixtures. If they fail to pick up points from these games then it could be a long hard season and Di Canio won’t be around to see the finale.
What would you personally sacrifice to see them relegated?
I would personally sacrifice Niall Quinn to the Footballing Gods and do the resulting time at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. Two birds, one stone!