Sunderland miraculously managed to pull off the great escape last season and avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth, but they yet again find themselves in a relegation battle and are currently bottom of the Premier League.
Dick Advocaat may rue the decision to stay on another year and it could turn out to be a great mistake if the Black Cats fail to turn their poor form around.
He had the opportunity to leave at the end of the 2014/15 season but was persuaded by the club's hierarchy and fans to stay on for one more year.
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WHAT’S GONE WRONG
Sunderland have had an awful start, picking up two points in seven games. They have conceded sixteen goals and scored only six, leaving them with a goal difference of -10.
If Sunderland are to survive this season they need to cut out the individual mistakes and solidify at the back. They have a world class goalkeeper in Costel Pantilimon, who is more than capable of saving their bacon but the back four and midfield need to help him, too.
They have plenty of experience at the back and this is a team who know how to grind results out when they need them most. They have workers in midfield and if Advocaat can get them defending as a team then they will stand a better chance of surviving.
Jermain Defoe will be the main goal contributor, so there will be a lot of pressure on his shoulders. The ex-Spurs and England international will need to be on top form in front of goal to give Sunderland a fighting chance.
Fabio Borini will also be expected to help out on the goal front after making his £8 million switch from Liverpool. He excelled on loan at the club before, so expectation on the Italian will be high. He has the pace and creativity to beat a man and, if he can convert chances into goals, he will be gold dust and a fans' favourite.
Advocaat is a great manager and steered his team to safety last term. He has a similar job to do this term and at the moment Sunderland are on a poor run of form and short of confidence. It’s Advocaat’s job to keep morale high and find the formation and personnel that works best. If he can do that, Sunderland will survive as they have enough quality within their ranks.
If Sunderland don’t start picking up points soon, they could find themselves adrift of the rest and the pressure will only increase.
Where will Sunderland finish? Can they pull off the great escape again? Have your say below!
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