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Monday, 6 June 2016

Sunderland

Sunderland finally secured their place in the Premier League for 2016/17 with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Everton at the Stadium of Light in their penultimate fixture, but manager Sam Allardyce is determined to avoid another relegation fight next season. The Black Cats failed to win any of their opening eight fixtures of the 2015/16 campaign, leading to the resignation of former boss Dick Advocaat and the appointment of Sam Allardyce on a two-year contract.

A five-game losing streak at the end of 2015 once again put a tenth consecutive season in the Premier League in doubt, but Sunderland finished the season with just one defeat in their last 11 games. Allardyce was the first to acknowledge that his side were heavily reliant on former England striker Jermain Defoe, whose 15 Premier League goals made all the difference in the relegation struggle.

However, Defoe is now 33, Fabio Borini has been transformed into a winger, rather than an out-and-out centre forward and Steven Fletcher, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Marseille, has accepted that this Sunderland career is over. It’s no surprise that ‘Big Sam’ has spoken openly about his desire to add another striker to his squad and West Ham striker Diafra Sakho is likely to be high on the list of transfer targets he’s due to discuss with owner Ellis Short.

Sunderland have won the League Championship twice and the F.A. Cup twice, as well as finishing runner-up in the F.A. Cup and League Cup twice apiece. However, their only major trophy since World War II remains the F.A. Cup in 1973 when, as a Second Division team, they recorded a shock 1-0 win over Leeds United. Sam Allardyce has never been relegated and has said that the Black Cats must learn from their mistakes this season so, with consolidation the name of the game, 1,500/1 for the Premier League title is unlikely to see many takers. However, stranger things have happened, haven’t they?

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