Sunderland defeated Reading 3-0 at the Stadium of Light last night to lift the pressure on under-fire boss Martin O’Neill.
The Black Cats have been on a terrible run of form that had seen the North East side drop into the relegation zone.
There must have been a big sigh of relief from everybody connected with Sunderland with this victory. The win moved Sunderland up to 15th in the Premier League table.
The bottom of the table is currently very tight and it really is impossible to predict who will be relegated at the end of the season.
I don’t think many people had Sunderland down as one of the teams that would struggle this season, but the Black Cats have struggled to find the net and this has led the team to struggle to collect wins.
When Sunderland paid £12million for Steven Fletcher there were people that were asking questions about his price tag, including me. Fletcher had been a decent goalscorer in the past, but I never realised just how good he could be in the top flight.
Fletcher has become so vital to the Sunderland team that if he doesn’t perform then the team don’t seem much of an attacking threat. Sunderland may depend on the striker far too much though.
The Scotland international has now found the net seven times in 14 appearances for the Black Cat’s after scoring Sunderland’s second in their defeat of Reading. The striker has shown his quality this season and if Sunderland are to drag themselves away from the drop zone then his goals will be vital.
Sunderland’s struggles this season have saw people asking questions about whether Martin O’Neill can be a success at the Stadium of Light. He provided the jolt that the club needed when he first arrived and pulled the club away from trouble.
However, once that new manager effect wore off the team seemed to have struggled. Martin O’Neill has always been a highly-rated boss, but managing the Black Cats was also going to be a big challenge.
The Ulsterman had claimed that Aston Villa wasn’t ambitious enough for him and stated that he wasn’t given the necessary funds to move the club forward.
Sunderland hasn’t got a fortune to spend and I’m not sure what the fans expectations really are. The Blacks Cats are not realistically in a position to challenge at the top end of the table. O’Neill is an ambitious boss and it seemed like a strange move for the Ulsterman.
Sunderland could be in a fight for top flight survival this season. However, they have enough quality players in their squad to turn their season around.
The likes of Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher are players capable of producing top class performances. The trio will be crucial to where the Black Cats finish this season.
Johnson’s performances are improving by the game and regular first team football will only benefit the England international. The winger couldn’t claim a regular place at Manchester City, but he is one of the first names on the teamsheet at Sunderland.
Sessegnon’s form last season was superb and he was even played out of position at times as a striker. The attacking midfielder’s form is also slowly improving and he is starting to look a quality player again.
Although I believe that Sunderland have the quality to stay in the Premier League they still face a battle to stay up. The Black Cats face league leaders Manchester United in their next match. They will have to be at their best to get anything from the trip to in-form United.
The victory over Reading could be the start of a revival, but I’m afraid to say that revival will have to continue after their trip to Old Trafford, because I really don’t think they will claim anything against Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.
On another note I just want to say congratulations to League Two Bradford City, who defeated Arsenal on penalties in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals.
Will Sunderland survive the drop this season?