Year Formed

1879

Stadium

Stadium of Light

Capacity

49,000
 

Last 10 years league finishing positions

 
 

Best Season

1999/01

The glory days for Sunderland came between 1999/01 when they secured back-to-back 7th placed finishes under manager Peter Reid with 58 and 57 points respectively. Striker Kevin Phillips was pivotal, making a splash in his first season of topflight football with 30 goals in 1999/2000 and picking up the European Golden Shoe Award, before following up with 14 goals in the following year.

 

How they fared last season

Sunderland live to fight their 10th consecutive campaign in the Premier League after a white-knuckle end of season ride to safety. When Sam Allardyce took over from Dick Advocaat in October they were languishing in 19th and winless in eight. Their survival was confirmed in the last home game of the season – a 3-0 win over Everton – made all the sweeter when it condemned bitter rivals Newcastle to the drop.

48
number of goals
scored last season
62
number of goals
conceded last season
2
red cards
61
yellow cards
 

Team Strengths

Sunderland lost just three of their last 16 games in 2015/16 and if they can pick up where they left off, the Black Cats are halfway there (albeit they’ll need to rack up more wins).

Allardyce had already indicated he was in the market for another striker to share the heavy-lifting with Jermain Defoe.

If the new gaffer can also prise a decent transfer budget out of the closed fist of Irish-American owner Ellis Short, to splash out on the backline (they were among the bottom five teams for goals conceded last season), then relegation-wary fans should be in for an easier ride.

Sunderland are often derided for their long ball tactics and in April this year CIES Football Observatory noted only one team had a higher percentage of long balls to total passes – Leicester City (and we all know how that ended).

 

Weaknesses

Back in the real world the club is living out a kind of Groundhog Day relegation battle with successive managers forced into short-term survival mode over long term planning.

Except for 2010/11 when they finished 10th, they’ve been in the bottom half of the table fare for the past nine years – and four of those times, they finished in the last five.

Moyes will be keen to prove himself after the nightmare at Old Trafford, and Sunderland is the perfect vehicle for him to shine again - a club with limited expectations that could be transformed to punch above its weight.

But Moyes will also come in with a degree of self-doubt following his Manchester United experience, and inherits a workman-like squad designed to stay up rather than impress and surprise.

He may struggle this season, but if he can beat the drop, prepare to be surprised next campaign.

 

Formation

Big Sam’s way was direct and organised. While his late departure was far from ideal, Moyes offers the best possible transition. A strict disciplinarian who favours diligent teams, a strong defence and hard-working wingers willing to charge up and down the pitch all day.

 

Star Player

Defoe looked anything but a season-saving striker under Advocaat but gained a new lease after the Dutchman left.

The 33-year-old fired in an impressive 15 league goals, all but two coming under Big Sam’s watch.

After a slow start to the campaign the former English international started 2016 in blistering form with a brace against Aston Villa, followed by a hat-trick against Swansea as Sunderland started their climb out of a very large hole.

On May 7, Defoe scored the winner in a 3-2 shock defeat of Chelsea that moved the Black Cats out of the relegation zone before they sealed another year of topflight football in the following round.

It got even better for the veteran marksman who was the club’s top goal scorer of the season (7th in the league overall) and named Black Cats’ player of the year.

 

David Moyes

Manager

The one-time Everton fixture has struggled post Merseyside but will relish the chance to prove himself again on English soil.

Moyes was Sir Alex Ferguson’s pick for the Manchester United job but lasted just 10 months into a six-year deal before getting axed.

It was only marginally better at Real Sociedad where he survived a year.

The 53-year-old’s reputation has suffered a battering but he still has plenty of supporters.

Among them Socceroos legend, Tim Cahill, who played his best football under Moyes at Everton, and recently said: “He is the only man I would want to put in charge of my dream team”.

Significantly, Ellis Short has described the gaffer as “my number one managerial target for the last five appointments”, effectively sinking the boot into Allardyce’s reign.