In what is perhaps a tale of two cities, Newcastle and Sunderland, for opposite reasons, are demonstrating that less can sometimes be more.
Less signings, that is, for despite making just one senior addition, Newcastle United have made a solid start to the season taking seven points from four games. Whereas neighbours Sunderland, who drafted in a plethora of new players over the summer, have taken just one.
Indeed, there were some envious eyes on Tyneside, glancing over at their neighbours as the Black Cats recruited no less than fourteen new players, while their own club were, by all accounts, floundering in the transfer market.
Alan Pardew, however, was quick to point out that the club did a lot of business in January, bringing in the likes of Moussa Sissoko and Mapou Yanga-M'biwa from Toulouse and Montpellier respectively. It is this fact that proves vital as to why the clubs have had diverging and perhaps unexpected starts to the new campaign.
Newcastle were predicted a season of struggle by many, with their lack of signings and various off-field dramas being cited as possible triggers for self-destruction. They could very well still end up flirting with danger, but if recent performances are anything to go by, then it's very possible that people simply got it wrong regarding the Magpies.
Stability is a powerful tool that is often underestimated in favour of acquiring some new toys. As aforementioned, Newcastle brought in some excellent footballers in January, who, after a rocky start, have now managed to settle into English football. They then supplemented that with an injection of quality into the front line in the shape of Loic Remy and that was all. That is not to say that Newcastle planned it that way but that's what happened and the fact that there were virtually no new faces added breeds a stability which most other Premier League sides don't have.
Following the disastrous 4-0 loss to Manchester City, which was in no small part contributed to by Yohan Cabaye's refusal to play on the eve of the game, Newcastle have looked solid at the back, conceding just once in four games across all competitions and dangerous in attack, with countless chances created against Fulham and Aston Villa. In short they're looking a good side and that's down to having a settled squad.
Conversely, Sunderland were predicted a decent season with some exciting signings in one hand and an infinitely more exciting manager in the other. But despite a relatively 'easy' start, if there is such a thing, Sunderland find themselves with only a single point and rooted to the foot of the table. So where has it gone wrong for Di Canio's men?
Quality is not necessarily the issue. Sunderland have brought in some well respected continental players such as Jozy Altidore and Emanuele Giaccherini to name but a few to supplement pre-existing Premier League standard players like Steven Fletcher. The issue seems to be that these players just haven't had a chance to gel. There were times where the Black Cats looked a good side against Arsenal. But there have equally been times in previous matches where the team has just completely fallen apart.
That is down to throwing too many players together at once, above all in defence, and to be fair that was a fear that was harboured by some sceptics before the season began. The question is, will they find their feet before it's too late? It's hard to say, but with their next three home games against Liverpool, Manchester United and arch rivals Newcastle, the Sunderland resurgence may have to wait.
Of course it is early days and much can change between now and May, but could Newcastle and Sunderland be about to prove that less is indeed more? Only time will tell.
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