There's Life After Di Canio: 5 Reasons Sunderland Can Survive
After opening the season at odds of 6.00 for relegation, Sunderland now find themselves an even money proposition for the drop. Today Tim Simon gives us 5 reasons why Sunderland fans should remain optimistic.
The tenuous and short-lived reign of the controversial and eccentric former Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio came to an end after the 3-0 away defeat to West Brom at the weekend. The Italian had kept the Black Cats in the Premier League last season and will be remembered mostly for his passionate celebrations at the end of last season’s Tyne-Wear derby. Kevin Ball took charge of the 2-0 Capital One Cup victory at home to Peterborough amid intense speculation that ex-Brighton boss Gus Poyet is about to take over at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland have just one point from their opening five league games and as a result have seen their odds for relegation crash from 6.00 pre-season to now even money. But that is no reason to write them off. Here are five reasons why the Black Cats can survive this season following the enigmatic Italian’s departure.
#1 - Undoubted Talent
Last season, in the heroic win at St James’ Park, Sunderland proved that they have enough quality to survive and there is no doubt that they have a better squad this time around after Di Canio added 14 players to it over the summer. It is up to the new manager to gel these players together in order to have a chance of survival. First things first, they need a settled and balanced back four. They can’t afford to continue to play central midfielders as their full-backs; they need natural full-backs who bring balance to the team.
If players such as Adam Johnson and Emanuele Giaccherini can perform to their best ability, there is no doubt that Sunderland have the talent and creativity in their squad needed to survive. Losing talismanic striker Steven Fletcher may have been a massive blow but unlike last season they have decent back-up in Jozy Altidore and Fabio Borini. However, the they both need to start scoring goals quickly, now that their main striker is out of action for the foreseeable future. If the new manager can find Sunderland’s best eleven and get Fletcher (when he returns from his dislocated shoulder) firing, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
#2 - Gus Poyet Has A Point To Prove
The Uruguayan is the clear favourite for the Sunderland job and after finding out he had been sacked by Brighton live on TV, he definitely has a point to prove. He is still considering entering legal proceedings against his former club but his full focus would have to be on getting Sunderland out of trouble if he takes over.
His style of play was praised during his time on the South Coast; in fact before the sour end to his tenure, he had done an unbelievable job. Poyet would surely integrate his possession style of football into a Sunderland side who have lacked an identity for some time now. Other managers such as Roberto Di Matteo and Tony Pulis have been linked and although they would seem the much more sensible options, Poyet’s style of football is something that Sunderland fans would warm to if it was a success in the long run. It could be a risk worth taking. If they opted for Pulis, for instance, the long-ball game he brought to Stoke City may not be widely accepted like Poyet’s would if it was a success.
#3 - A Timely Departure
Some might say that it was a ‘knee-jerk’ decision by the Sunderland board to sack Di Canio but in truth he was never going to be a long-term appointment. It is my belief that they have managed to get rid of an outlandish and bizarre boss before they were cast too far adrift at the foot of the league. It is a decision that will give the new manager enough time to implement their own style on the team.
Another point which needs to be made is that the players did not want Di Canio there any longer, it was revealed a day after his firing that the players complained about their boss to the board. After this revolt, sacking the Italian was the only decision the board had and a change at the helm is a very timely one. Their impressive victory against in-form Peterborough in the Capital One Cup is the first proof of this.
#4 – We're Only Five Games Into The Season
Let’s not panic now. Let’s not be hasty. Only five games have been played in the Premier League so far. People are far too quick to join bandwagon’s saying that the team that is bottom after such a small amount of games are destined for the drop, but, if we look at it logically, a lot can change in 33 games.
Cast your mind back to 2008 when Fulham looked doomed having won just four games all season and after winning four of their last five games, they survived. Think of all the times that Wigan Athletic seemed doomed but a late positive run of results changed all that. There is no reason why Sunderland can’t do something similar, or even get out of the drop zone even sooner. There is a long way to go yet, it is impossible to say who will be relegated just yet and a change of management seems to be just what the Black Cats need.
#5 - A Derby Win Could Kick-Start Their Season
Sunday 27th October is a date that all Sunderland fans have had in their calendars since the fixture list was brought out in June as it sees them take on their fiercest rivals Newcastle at the Stadium of Light. Last season’s 3-0 victory at St James’ Park enabled them to survive and they will be hoping that another win over the Magpies can kick-start their flailing 2013-14 campaign.
They have some very tricky home games coming up against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City in which they will see any point gained as a bonus. This means that the Tyne-Wear derby in late October becomes even more important as it is the only upcoming home game that they can realistically hope for a victory.
Sunderland are currently 2nd favourites for the drop with Bet365, you can back them to be relegated at 2.00. My tip would be to avoid this bet until the new manager settles in but if you are eager to place a wager straight away, bet on the promoted clubs.
Current Premier League Relegation Odds - Odds as at 26th September 2013.
Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimSimon90