By James Dann
And so the cycle begins again. Eight to ten games into the season, with maybe a solitary scrappy win. The manager leaves, a new one comes in and struggles to get the best out of a squad that looks decent on paper, but is dysfunctional on the park. We go past Christmas without leaving the relegation positions. Then, just when it is as close to too late as it can get, a lucky goal goes in and manages to keep hope alive. What follows is a dramatic late season run to avoid relegation, and unreasonably raise expectations for the next season.
All that said, maybe 2014-15 could be different. Gus Poyet does seem like a manager on the up, one who just needs a season or two of solid improvement before securing a move to a bigger club. He does have some decent players – at least in theory. Connor Wickham came into form at the right time last year, and should get better. Steven Fletcher owes the club after a big transfer, then a long period out with injury. And of course, you can’t ignore SAFC’s only World Cup player, Jozy Altidore. Ok, maybe you can.
At the back, Costel Pantilmon has brought his 6’8” frame over from Man City. It should be regularly tested as in front of him the defence is a worry since it still seems to be built around Man U off casts. The midfield, however, contains the right amount of kicking (Lee Cattermole) and control (Seb Larsson), plus the addition of Jordi Gomez from Wigan in the number ten role.
The first five games of the season are a mixed bag with away games at two of the promoted sides while also hosting Man United and Spurs. If they can nick a win from any of those, then Poyet might be enjoying Christmas on Wearside.
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