Gustavo Poyet performed a minor miracle in guiding Sunderland to Premier League safety last season following the disastrous start to the campaign under the stewardship of Paolo Di Canio. The Uruguayan coach urged Sunderland supporters to persevere with the team until he was in a position to reshape the team in his image and start playing the football designed to attract supporters to the Stadium of Light.
Poyet has overseen a busy summer releasing a lot of players carried over from Martin O’Neill’s spell at the club whilst also adding astutely to his squad. The January signing of Liam Bridcutt was the first sign of the path Gus Poyet was hoping to follow, and this summer the talented midfield metronome has been joined by Jack Rodwell and Will Buckley.
Rodwell is a talented footballer and has been unlucky with injuries during his time at Manchester City, hence why opportunities in the first-team weren’t forthcoming. However a regular place in Sunderland’s midfield will give the Black Cats a real edge in terms of retaining possession. One of the main criticisms of Sunderland last term was their inability to keep the ball. However that will not be the case this season.
Defensively there are still concerns despite Santiago Vergini being retained on another season-long loan. The release of Phil Bardsley has been somewhat surprising given his impressive displays last term. However age is not on his side as Poyet looks to bring a younger squad mixed with experience rather than the older squad Sunderland had been left with following O’Neill and Di Canio’s respective departures.
Sunderland has had a much calmer pre-season this year and Poyet will have had even more time to perfect and tweak his footballing system with the players at his disposal. Sunderland still lack the quality needed to propel themselves into the top half of the table despite the welcome addition of Rodwell in midfield.
Sunderland won’t face the similar Groundhog Day situation which they have become accustomed to in recent seasons as Poyet is building for the long-term. Another campaign securing top-flight status is needed in order for Poyet to continue his reshaping of the club in a positive manner.
Players In: Jack Rodwell-£11million, Will Buckley-£3million, Patrick van Aanholt-£3million, Jordi Gomez-Free Transfer, Billy Jones-Free Transfer, Costel Pantilimon-Free Transfer, Santiago Vergini-Loan
Players Out: Ignacio Scocco-£4million, David Moberg Karlsson-£440k, El-Hadji Ba-Loan, Jordan Pickford-Loan, David Vaughan-Free Transfer, Oscar Ustari-Free Transfer, Keiren Westwood-Free Transfer, Jack Colback-Free Transfer, Craig Gardner-Free Transfer, Phil Bardsley-Free Transfer, Andrea Dossena-Free Transfer, Carlos Cuellar-Free Transfer
Predicted finish: 14th