Sunderland Running Out of Escape Plans

Here were are again, Sunderland sitting in the bottom three. Since Martin O’Neil led the club to a 13th placed finish, the club have always been fighting off the threat of relegation. This season however, it seems they have run out of escape plans.

Up front they have a top quality striker in Jermaine Defoe, Sunderland rely so heavily on him. If Defoe doesn’t score, Sunderland usually draw a blank. They had a fantastic result against Crystal Palace at Selhurt Park a few weeks ago, Sunderland ran out 4-0 winners that day. Fast-forward seven days and Sunderland lose 4-0 to Southampton. All the good work of the Crystal Palace result undone just seven days later. The result at Selhurst Park is there only win in the last six games. Sunderland host Manchester City this weekend, a game where you would fancy Aguero to grab a couple. The defenders can not afford to perform the way they been in recent weeks against City, if they do the result will not be pretty for Sunderland and their fans.

Teams who escape relegation on a regular basis, pay the price eventually. I fear for Sunderland this season, they have a few quality players in Defoe and the young goalkeeper – Jordan Pickford. However, if you take Defoe out of the side, you struggle to find a player who can drag the team out of the mess they find themselves in. Though there is a drop in money after a team is relegated, it can be a blessing in disguise. It is a chance for a team to rebuild and get some of the higher earners off the wage bill.

David Moyes is a decent manager, he has signed players he has worked with before, players that he trusts. If you looked at the Sunderland squad at the start of the season, you would say they would be one of the favourites for relegation. The squad simply isn’t good enough. Despite this season’s record £100m-plus Premier League TV deal, Sunderland are £140m in debt with a £73m wage bill and still making a loss. It has meant that David Moyes has not been able to spend money on players that will actually improve the squad. That is a huge problem, in the past Sunderland have been able to make a few signings in the January window to help fight off relegation. The other issue at Sunderland is, David Moyes became their seventh manager since 2011, a manager needs time to build and develop his squad.

It is almost as if Moyes has been backed into a corner a little, he was not aware of the clubs financial situation before joining the club. I highly doubt he would have taken over as manager if he knew the plight of the club. It is a difficult situation for the manager, he often cuts quite a lonely figure during his interviews, a man who seems to have a lack of belief that he can save Sunderland this season. Moyes faces three of the Premier League’s top six in the club’s final seven games this season, beginning with the visit of Manchester United on April 9.

Bottom of the table and three points off safety, the club take on Manchester City this weekend in the first of 12 games to save their Premier League status in what is their most perilous position yet. Just seven points separates the bottom seven teams in the Premier League. Moyes will be looking to make it five in a row and save the club from relegation, however I just can’t see it this time. When you fight off relegation for so long, it will always catch up with you – I think it has caught up with Sunderland this time around.