Troubling times for Newcastle and Sunderland
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Sunderland currently sit in 19th spot in the Premier League table with a meagre 3 points so far. The only reason they are not bottom of the pile is because of their North East rivals, Newcastle, being on a worse goal difference. It is worrying times for both clubs as this is not just a rough patch for them, this has been going on for a few seasons now, and the fans are fed up. If something does not change quickly, both sides could be facing the drop this season, and after watching them play, it is clear to see why this is a realistic possibility.
Despite Dick Advocaat guiding Sunderland to safety towards the end of last season, he did not start the new season with them at all well, and as a result has now left his managerial position at the Stadium of Light. This change had to be made sooner rather than later. The final nail in the coffin for the Dutchman was their most recent result where they let a two goal lead slip at home to West Ham. If they are to stay up this season, they cannot be so wasteful. However, with the news that Sam Allardyce has now been appointed as Sunderland’s new manager, they may have a great chance of staying up. He has never had a team relegated from the Premier League and was the obvious choice. This is sure to add even more spice to the derby days between these two, with Allardyce being a former manager of Newcastle. The Black Cats must be more solid defensively if they want to stay up this season and are in need of a leader at the back. Kaboul was brought in to give the back line more experience and pace, but he is yet to impress. Coates has also performed poorly when he has played. But who knows, maybe under Allardyce, they will iron out these deficiencies and concede far fewer goals. They lack depth and most importantly, quality in midfield. Although in fairness, at least they have a character that will get stuck in, in the form of Lee Cattermole. They also have a proven Premier league goal scorer in Jermain Defoe who won them one of the derbies last season with a magnificent strike. If anyone is going to provide the goals to keep Sunderland up, it will be him. Big Sam has a real challenge on his hands here, but they now have a much better chance of remaining in the league with him at the helm.
Newcastle have already proved that they are able to compete with top teams in this league. They drew with Chelsea and Manchester United, while only narrowly losing 1-0 to Arsenal. On the other hand they have also had some tragic results such as being knocked out of the League Cup by Sheffield Wednesday at home, and being thrashed 6-1 away to Manchester City. The main problem with the Newcastle squad at the moment is the lack of proven Premier League players they possess. I shall not name all of their summer signings, but the majority are players that have good potential, but have not had the experience of a relegation battle, which is something that Newcastle may well be involved in come April time. Players that will certainly give them a good chance of staying up this season are the likes of Tim Krul, Tiote and in particular Janmaat who has given them a lot going forward despite playing full back. I have focused on the issues on the pitch as opposed to off it, as that could take a long time. All I shall say is that something needs to be sorted out soon. This conflict has been going on for far too long between the fans and the owner Mike Ashley. Newcastle are undoubtedly a big club, and have much higher ambitions than just scraping survival. Maybe this is a job too far for Steve McClaren but only time will tell.
How are these two clubs going to get out of the situation they are in? In some ways attack is the best form of defence. Leicester are living proof of this. Last season everyone had them as favourites to go down and looked dead and buried by February. But they came out and attacked teams, resulting in them getting the points they needed to remain in the Premier League. This is surely the style they must adopt. Sunderland have even done it before in the 2013/14, making a fantastic surge to safety, beating the likes of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and thrashed Cardiff to ensure they did not make the drop to the Championship. I am really looking forward to seeing how the season unfolds for these two clubs. Hopefully things can improve for them as they are both big clubs, not to mention the derby between the two sides each season which is full of passion and excitement. Both managers have a big task ahead.