O’Neill’s Sunderland drifted through the season unremarkably, seemingly on course for mid-table mediocrity until a barren run of no wins in 9 games from the end of January left them flirting with relegation. Paolo Di Canio, of course, took over just after game 32 and presided over a precious 0-3 derby victory at Newcastle and 5 additional points which were just enough to survive the drop.
Sunderland’s goals for and against moving averages were volatile and trended in the same direction – as the goals scored picked up from about game 8, so did the goals conceded, leaving the 5-game goal difference broadly negative for most of the season.
Except for a 2-4 loss to West Brom at home and a 6-1 thrashing at Villa, the defence record was quite tidy throughout the season but like Stoke they struggled to create and score goals.
It’s not a terrible view of home and away performance – there isn’t one thing Sunderland did horribly at, particularly if you remove THAT 6-1 loss. Enabling the team to score more will surely be the focus of Di Canio’s squad adjustments this summer.
Sunderland probably underperformed a bit across each segment, although the nature of the purple points columns suggests that they performed somewhere close to their true level by finishing middlish in the bottom half.
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Sunderland were another team who fielded a below average number of ‘tall’ players in their 11 during the season.
This is an incredible record of players who played greater than 2800mins in the first team. Sessegnon, Larsson, Colback, Johnson, O’Shea, Gardner and Mignolet all played about 32 games or more apiece.
Bardsley, Fletcher and Cattermole were notable absentees for parts of the season but in general the Sunderland squad was fit, healthy and available and yet the performance scores are lacking somewhat in the chart above. This is partly because the score is biased towards attacking qualities – and we already know that Sunderland underperformed offensively. The other clear justification is that the quality in attack just isn’t there.
- Lowest total chances created (279)
- Lowest clear cut chances created (28)
- 3rd worst goals scored (39)
- 3rd highest number of goalkeeper saves (150)
- 2nd lowest number of final third passes (4108)
Sessegnon, Fletcher and Johnson performed quite well in attack whilst Rose and Cuellar stood out in defence. Pretty slim pickings in terms of outstanding performers but I’d select Rose as one of the most effective players in the team; and despite only 2222mins on the pitch he gained 6 TPOEM team man of the match awards, only 1 behind leader Sessegnon.
Alfred N’Diaye and Danny Graham, who both joined in January, made very little impact on the team and so far have done little to suggest that they will improve the current group of players.