H’away the Lads! Welcome to the Sunderland AFC Blog for the upcoming 2015/16 Premier League season. Pre-season is underway meaning it is time for us Sunderland fans get excited about average signings and beating non-league opposition by one goal.
So what could this season hold for Sunderland AFC and the little general Dick Advocaat? Well it could be a season that sees us gain that little bit of stability we’ve been craving, despite Advocaat only renewing his contract for one year.
Since the 10th-placed finish under Bruce in the 2010/11 season, things have not gone according to plan for the Black Cats. Bruce’s departure was followed by the sackings of Martin O’Neill, Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet in quick succession.
For both Martin O’Neil and Gus Poyet, it was the style of football they introduced in their first full seasons in charge that let them down. Both were too negative.
As for PDC, well, the less said the better. Yes he was passionate and a real fans’ man but he was a bit of a fruit loop with his tactics. 1-0 up away to Southampton, backs against the wall, and the mad Italian decided to change from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 with the introduction of Ji Dong-won. The match ended 1-1.
But, for the first time in years, Dick Advocaat has brought a positive style of football that all Sunderland fans have been craving. It was yet again a miracle that we stayed up last year, and it was all due to Advocaat’s positivity.
Advocaat knows what he wants from this transfer window in order to build a successful team the Sunderland faithful deserve. So far it has been slow on the transfer front but, as all Mackems know well, Sunderland aren’t the quickest at getting deals over the line.
Strengthening the defence seems a priority at the moment for Dick and “Director of Football” Lee Congerton. The permanent signing of Sebastian Coates was pleasing after his impressive run at the end of the season. As was the addition of Celtic right back Adam Matthews.
As for the signing of Younes Kaboul, I think it’s a good one. It was maybe a deal we could have done with five years ago, the same as Defoe, but you can’t argue with signing someone with Premier League experience to add strength to the squad.
There was some disappointing news for Sunderland fans though after it was reported that the highly-rated defender Nicolas Lombaerts had failed a medical at the club. It’s quite baffling how a player that has played a full season for Zenit St. Petersburg can fail a medical that even Jack Rodwell can pass.
However, we have signed Dutch midfielder Jeremain Lens from Dynamo Kiev. Lens has played under Dick at AZ Alkmaar and PSV Eindhoven so the relationship is clearly a strong one between player and manager.
I must admit, I’m not an avid follower of the Ukrainian League or the Dutch national side, but I’m told (by Twitter and the likes) that we’ve signed a direct and pacey winger which is exactly what we’ve been missing.
I still believe Sunderland need more in defence as well as another striker or two. Connor Wickham is the laziest footballer alive and the only player I know who is 6ft 3in but jumps at 5ft 7in. Steve Fletcher is more interested in back-heeling everything and Danny Graham has scored one goal in his time on Wearside. Graham however, looked a different player under Advocaat and a real workhorse which is what the fans love.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the former Rangers chief looked into the youth team as well. Duncan Watmore is the most likely to break through. Watmore was named in the Official Team of the Tournament after impressive performances for England Under-20s at the Toulon Tournament.
Watmore was also awarded “Revelation of the Tournament.” At club level, he was named Barclays U-21 Player of the Season. Having watched him in youth matches, I believe he most definitely could make the step up to Premier League.
I want to be quietly confident for the season ahead but, as past seasons have shown, it’s very rare we have a straightforward season. I had so much hope when the seasons started under Poyet and Di Canio, and look how they ended!
I’m just praying Advocaat’s long career in football can see us have a steady season and give whoever takes over after the Dutchman a strong squad that can be built on further.