Fresh off the back of a convincing 2-0 away win against relegation contenders Hull City, Sunderland fans are sure to be wondering what could have been. Relegation was confirmed last week for the club, as Bournemouth sunk them at home – and other results conspired against them.
However, as the full time whistle sounded around the KCom Stadium, and the Hull City players trudged off in the knowledge that a Swansea victory could put them perilously close to the drop, the Sunderland contingent finally had something to celebrate.
It has been a long and gruelling season for the Mackems, with uncertainty surrounding their managers at every turn – and pitiful performances from players brought in by David Moyes to help steady the tide instead causing the most hideous crash – potentially the worst seen in the club’s entire history.
Sunderland have experienced 23 defeats this season – a crushing statistic when compared to previous seasons of mid-table safety. Moyes’ appointment in July was quietly lauded by fans and pundits alike, after he replaced Sam Allardyce after the FA came calling.
Now both Moyes’ and Allardyce’s regimes could well be short lived with Sunderland’s confirmed relegation, although the Scot is adamant he plans to see out the remainder of his four year contract.
After Sunderland’s defeat against Middlesborough, Moyes predicted his team would be in for a season-long relegation fight. The Scot’s prediction came after the second game. And the sorry truth is that he hasn’t been proved wrong.
The summer transfer window was a shambles for the club too. Moyes operated on a strict budget handed to him by owner Ellis Short – so stuck to what he knew best. In came recruitments from his old clubs.
Steven Pienaar was handed a contract after injury related problems saw him released from Everton. Former Everton players were signed by the club; forward Victor Anichebe and Joleon Lescott came in, albeit accusations that the veteran defender was out of shape.
Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo was brought in during the January window, marking another transfer period of misery for Sunderland.
And the uninspiring signings led to limp performances on the pitch. The start of the season saw the club fail to win any of their first ten games in the Premier League – and a fourth round defeat against Southampton saw them crash out of the EFL Cup prematurely as well.
The back end of the campaign has also been a miserable one – after the club were the first in the top division to have their relegation confirmed.
The highs of the season have been few and far between – but Jermain Defoe scoring 14 goals on limited service is almost certain to see him move on during the summer.
It is puzzling that his manager’s future remains uncertain. There has been no official support for Moyes coming from the higher levels of the club – but the Scot’s comments recently seem to suggest he is assured of his future in the Stadium of Light dug out.
So with the club condemned to scrapping in the Championship next season, the Sunderland rebuilding job is surely a massive one.
But fans will be concerned that it doesn’t seem to have begun yet.