IT’S safe to say that 2013 wasn’t exactly Sunderland’s year.
Winning just seven league matches and sacking two managers displays perfectly the turbulence suffered in the last twelve months.
It hasn’t been all bad though, with some good results and some positives over 2013 for the Black Cats.
With all this in mind we decided to look back at three things good but firstly three bad moments for Sunderland over the last twelve months.
Paolo Di Canio
It is impossible not to start with the Italian when looking back at the last twelve months for Sunderland. Di Canio came in and saved Sunderland from the drop with successive wins – but nothing else went right for Paolo.
Di Canio signed badly, fell out with senior players and the board and became a one man laughing stock on Wearside.
Signing so many players in the summer, it was always difficult for them to gel. And with no victories this season he was sacked in September.
He won just two of his twelve league matches in charge in one of the most bizarre episodes in the Premier League’s history.
His strict regime would have been fine if Sunderland were winning but they simply weren’t and the writing was on the wall from the summer.
The standout bad result of 2013 for Sunderland almost certainly came on a Monday night back in April when they were thrashed 6-1 by relegation rivals Villa.
Just two weeks earlier Sunderland had beaten fierce rivals Newcastle (more on that later) and were looking to be on their way to safety.
However, as they visited Aston Villa they were made to look very poor by a team in just as much trouble as them.
Benteke helped himself to a second half hat trick as Sunderland went from 2-1 down at half time to an astonishing 6-1 defeat at the end of the match.
Following this defeat, Sunderland wouldn’t win again in the league until the end of October and though nobody knew it at the time, it was the beginning of the end for Paolo Di Canio.
3. Summer Signings
The reason Sunderland seemed to have struggled this season is the sheer amount of players they signed in the summer and the lack of quality these players possess.
Twelve first team players came in with for than forty million pounds being spent in the process. The likes of Ba, Cabral, Roberge and Diakete have hardly played and when they have look very poor.
Giaccherini has had his bright moments but seems to go missing in matches while Altidore may possess great strength he simply hasn’t scored enough goals.
The sheer volume of players brought in by Paolo Di Canio caused great disruption in the squad and they failed to gel, meaning results have been poor.
With Di Canio acting like a kid in a candy shop in the summer, a bit more consideration could have seen better, more suitable players come in. If Sunderland are relegated, the summer transfer policy will have to come under intense scrutiny.
Whereas we started the look at the bad with a failed manager, Poyet’s arrival may not have set the world on fire but he has certainly brought stability to the club in his short time in charge.
Poyet’s league record so far reads: Won four, Drawn Four Lost six; much improved on his predecessor. Whereas Di Canio won two in fourteen, Gus has four wins in fourteen.
The results haven’t been spectacular but steady.
There are no guarantees that Sunderland will stay up this season, but with Poyet in charge they certainly have a chance.
Sunderland 2-1 Newcastle
There aren’t many bigger games in the North East than Tyne and Wear derbies and having one for your second game in charge is pressure. That is exactly what Gus Poyet had to deal with though. After losing 4-0 to Swansea in his first game in charge, his opening home fixture saw Sunderland host their fiercest rivals.
Sunderland lead from early on when Steven Fletcher headed them in front before with just over thirty minutes to go, Mathieu Debuchy put Newcastle back level. However, Gus was to get his first win as Sunderland manager when a great effort from Borini from outside the area sparked jubilant celebration at the Stadium of Light.
This gave the manager’s reign in charge the lift-off it really needed and if Sunderland are in the Premier League next season they may look to this game as the one that started off their survival effort.
Newcastle 0-3 Sunderland
Its hard to ignore the two results against Newcastle as the stand outs as Sunderland’s 2013. When you’ve won just seven matches in a year, two against your biggest rivals is impressive.
In a similar vein to Poyet, Di Canio’s second match in charge came against Newcastle. Following defeat to Chelsea in his first game in charge, no-one could have predicted what was to come.
Sessegnon gave the Black Cats a first half lead and despite a Newcastle fight back stunning goals from Vaughan and Adam Johnson gave Sunderland a huge win against their local rivals.
The match provided now unforgettable images of Paolo Di Canio on his knees and another victory against Everton a week later would in the end keep Sunderland up.
This away battering of their fierce local rivals was without a doubt Sunderland’s finest moment of 2013 and the high point of Di Canio’s time in charge.
This article was written by FTBpro’s Alex Peace
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