On some occasions, you can only appreciate the good times once you have been to hell and back.
Despite Sunderland fans preparing for what looks like another nail-biting escape mission, the drop may actually serve the Black Cats well. There has been one top half finish (tenth) for Sunderland in the previous five seasons, including two great escapes finishing 17th in 2012/13 and 16th last season.
They are currently the second-bottom in the league with the second worst goal difference to match and appear to be caught in a Groundhog Day existence in the Premier League of late.
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Each season shows similarities to the previous. New managers, new uninterested players, and new – yet repeated – ongoing struggles. The dreaded drop might be the cure for the Groundhog Day diagnosis.
Teams to have experienced similar struggles, notably West Ham United and rivals Newcastle United, have clearly benefitted from regrouping in the Championship and relaunching feeling refreshed and returning in much better condition.
West Ham have continued to improve this season since they made their comeback to the Premier League in 2012/13. Despite their final positions being mixed, as the Hammers finished tenth, 13th and 12th respectively, they appear a more stable club, playing more entertaining football.
Newcastle too, have benefitted from that dreaded year when not even Alan Shearer’s superman style managerial debut could rescue them. A whole identity can be repaired with regaining immediate promotion back from relegation.
Since Sam Allardyce took the reigns, his squad have shown more of a fighting attitude. They picked up crucial wins over relegation rivals Aston Villa and Swansea, only for their winning run to come to an abrupt halt after the 4-1 thrashing by Tottenham Hotspur two weeks ago.
Whether Big Sam can rejuvenate this squad is a dubious debate. It is a disjointed collection of players, few of whom - who are playing regularly - have the necessary experience of escaping a relegation battle.
The journey back from hell is often crucial in shaping a team's fortunes. That is only if they can avoid any black cats crossing their path.
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