The Magpies also bought Andros Townsend the one notable young English player at Spurs that had run afoul of Mauricio Pochettino. Newcastle gambled on both Townsend and Shelvey to the tune of close to €32 million and yet no uptick in results has come since these purchases. In fact, the failure of these signings to deliver consistently probably further hastened the demise of manager Steve McClaren who was sacked last week. New manager Rafael Benitez has no choice but to get the most out of these two underachieving players or else Newcastle will likely be relegated.
Sunderland, by contrast under Allardyce, sought a new way forward. The Black Cats scoured the continent for bargains and players out of favor at their clubs and were able to buy four significant players. All four have made contributions to lifting Sunderland, for now, out of the relegation zone.
The purchases of Wahbi Khazri, Lamine Koné, Dame N’Doye and Jan Kirchoff cost Sunderland about €20 million total and all four have acclimated quickly to both English football and the high-intensity of Sam Allardyce’s management style. In the four signings, Allardyce was able to upgrade the Black Cats leaky defense, bring some midfield creativity and enhance the attack.
Khazri has proven to be the creative force Sunderland badly needed while Kirchoff and Koné, playing in varying roles, have helped solidify the defense. N’Doye, considered the least risky of the signings since he has previously played in England for Hull City, has contributed both in wide areas and in terms of serving as a second direct striker option.
Sunderland has escaped the drop zone thanks in large measure to these new additions while Newcastle has stagnated since the arrivals of Shelvey and Townsend. With this in mind and the Black Cats long winning streak against the Magpies on the line, Sunday’s derby will be a major statement for either side as to who will be playing Premier League football next season.