Sunderland’s 2015/16 Premier League campaign followed a familiar if depressing pattern: start badly, replace the manager and survive by the skin of their teeth after a dramatic run-in.
Martin O’Neill, who left in 2013, remains the last Sunderland manager to start and finish a season in charge at the Stadium of Light and the club must be desperate for a period of stability.
It must have been especially frustrating then that Sam Allardyce, the ideal man to move the club away from the annual relegation scramble, was lured away by England.
Former Everton manager David Moyes is the latest through the Stadium of Light’s revolving door. If he is still at his desk at the end of the season he will have gone some way to re-building his reputation following disastrous spells at Manchester United and Real Sociedad. If he’s not expect this to have been another season of struggle.
Reasons to be cheerful:
Unlike Hull City, who also unexpectedly lost their manager in pre-season, Sunderland acted swiftly and appointed a Premier League-proven boss. Moyes’ reputation may have taken a battering over the last few years but the work he did at Everton, on a limited budget, should not be forgotten.
Teams that go down normally struggle for goals but at least Sunderland can rely on Jermain Defoe, with the evergreen striker proving the difference in the last campaign.
Reasons to be fearful:
Despite Moyes’s credentials, losing Allardyce is a major blow. Sunderland’s transfer window is yet to get going and, with the new season just a few days away, it is clear the new manager will be desperate to strengthen the squad ahead of the campaign. As things stand the team is no better than the ones that have struggled over the last few seasons and unless several new recruits arrive before the window closes it is hard to see how they can avoid another dog-fight.
Papy Djilobodji (Chelsea, £8m), Donald Love and Paddy McNair (Man Utd, £6m combined), Adnan Januzaj (Man Utd, loan)
Out the door:
Emmanuel Giaccherini (Napoli, undisclosed), Steven Fletcher (Sheffield Wednesday, free), Steve Harper (released), Wes Brown (released), Danny Graham (Blackburn, free), Martin Smith (Kilmarnock, free), Santiago Vergini (Boca Juniors, £0.77m), Mikael Mandron (Eastleigh, free), Liam Agnew (released), Adam Matthews (Bristol City, loan).
Jermain Defoe – The 33-year-old’s goals were the difference for Sunderland last season and the Black Cats will also be relying on the striker to do the business this time around.
One to watch:
Charalampos Mavrias – The Greek winger has spent much of his Sunderland career out on loan but still has ambitions to make it in the Premier League and may get more of a chance under David Moyes.
First five games:
Manchester City (A) – Live on BT Sport 1, Middlesbrough (H), Southampton (A), Everton (H), Tottenham (A).
Click on your favourite club's name below for BT Sport's full preview:
Arsenal, Bournemouth, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull City, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United.