Sunderland claimed what could prove to be a priceless 2-1 win in yesterday’s north east derby against Newcastle at the Stadium of Light. Substitute Fabio Borini’s superb late strike gave Sunderland the win.
The game was only Gus Poyet’s second in charge of the Black Cats and the victory will have raised spirits amongst everybody connected with the Black Cats.
The victory took the Black Cats above Crystal Palace and off the bottom of the Premier League table.
The Black Cats are still four points away from safety, but there is a long time to go until the end of the season.
Even if the Black Cats had failed to claim a win against their arch-rivals they still would have had enough time to save themselves.
Sunderland underwent a summer of upheaval as 14 players arrived at the club. Former-boss Paolo Di Canio was going for revolution rather than evolution. The sheer number of players arriving in the summer meant that the team has struggled for any consistency this season.
Gus Poyet will be looking to bring some stability to his team and the club in general this season. The victory against Newcastle was not a bad start. It was certainly better than his first game in charge of the Black Cats, a 4-0 defeat at Swansea.
Despite claims to the contrary there is quality within the Sunderland squad. That quality was shown in the Black Cats first goal against the Magpies. England international winger Adam Johnson found Scotland’s Steven Fletcher, who headed home.
Those two are probably the Black Cats best hope of scoring the goals needed to stay in the top-flight. Italian international playmaker Emmanuel Giaccherini has also shown flashes of his ability in his short stint at the club.
However, it is vital the Black Cats manage to keep Steven Fletcher fit and on the pitch. The former-Burnley man will score goals given the opportunities; he has proved that at numerous clubs. His injury record over the last few seasons is not been great though.
Fletcher’s strike-partner in yesterday’s game was USA international Jozy Altidore, who was prolific in the Dutch Eredivisie last season. The young forward is struggling to find the net in the Premier League, with only one goal to his name so far in the top-flight since his summer arrival at the Stadium of Light.
He does have some very good attributes and he could provide more goals for the Black Cats, so the Sunderland team is not completely lacking quality.
Black Cats boss Gus Poyet was highly-rated in the Championship during his time with Brighton and was linked with other Premier League jobs prior to him joining Sunderland. He did a good job with the Seagulls, before leaving under a cloud.
It was always anticipated that Poyet would step-up to the top-flight at some stage. The Uruguayan came close to promotion with Brighton, but never quite reached the promised land of the Premier League.
However, Poyet has now been given his opportunity in the top-flight and some may say that his appointment was a risky one. He had no experience of managing in the English top-flight, so is regarded as a rookie at Premier League level.
The Uruguayan has never hid his ambition to manage at the top level of football, and in the Premier League especially. He now has his chance and has said a lot of the right things so far.
The three points from yesterday’s game were badly needed. It may well be early in the season, but the morale in the Black Cats camp seemed at rock-bottom. The victory must have given those Sunderland players a boost, especially because it was Newcastle being beaten.
The victory will have also given the beleaguered Sunderland fans a major boost. A derby victory is one to savour, but yesterdays had added importance as it may just kick-start the Black Cats season. The win will restore some of the confidence that has been missing for much of the season.
The next couple of games could be crucial ones in the Black Cats season. Poyet’s side face a trip to Hull in their next match and then host title challengers Manchester City in the game after that. Victory at Hull would put the Black Cats in a far healthier position than they were before the Newcastle clash.
Sunderland are still second favourites for relegation at odds of 4/6, but the Black Cats have at least put themselves in a slightly better position than last weekend. If Sunderland are to survive then they will have to start performing to the best of their ability and I for one will not be writing them off just yet.
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