Both members of the Tyne-Wear rivalry had a season that would be best forgotten. By the end of last season, the sigh of relegation relief will have been so extensive, that it could have warmed even the coldest of northern days.

However, both clubs must pick themselves up quickly, as this campaign could be just as tough.

The two have had contrasting summers...

Sunderland have been inundated with fresh faces signed by Paolo Di Canio, who was evidently unimpressed with the side he inherited from Martin O'Neill.

Alan Pardew, by contrast, has been overshadowed (and undermined potentially?) by the arrival of Joe Kinnear as a 'Director of Football'- I don't think anybody knows exactly what tHat means.

Essentially, Kinnear was bought in to buy people - but didn't. You'd think in most jobs that would lead to some inquest or review - but apparently not.

In the end, only one addition was made to the senior squad and that was the loan of the impressive Loic Remy, so it's not all bad. 

As such you'd think that Sunderland are primed to out-do their rivals this year, It's not as simple as that though.

Maybe it's not good that an aspiring journalist like myself hasn't heard of Ondrej Celustka, Cabral or Charis Mavrais but based on the first couple of Black Cat's games there is good reason for that.

Di Canio also bought in better known players like Andrea Dossena, Jozy Altidore and Fabio Borini but I can't see either of them setting the world alight, they haven't so far in their Premier League pasts.

Overhaul brings instability as well, it'll take time to gel.

With Di Canio being the loose cannon that he is, it's difficult to see that he could settle anybody down, let alone a whole squad.

By contrast, The Toon army have played together for a while now.

They aren't as bad as last season suggests, it's worth remembering that a very similar XI finished four points way from Champions League football two years ago.

The difference was the Europa League.

The second rate European competition is so often more of a hinderance than help to English clubs, and so it proved with Pardew's side.

Without European distractions and with a confidence boost along the way, it isn't unreasonable to think United cannot be challenging, comfortably, for the top half of the table again.

You have to fear for Sunderland though, it's early days and it would be foolish to write them off with 35 games to go, but they could easily fall into the bottom three.

Is Di Canio the calming influence you need in a fight at the bottom - no way.

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