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The Saviour - Kick starting a Career?
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  1. The Saviour - Kick starting a Career?

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    I sit uncomfortably on a flimsy plastic seat, wringing my hands nervously as I look out at the sea of journalists in front of me. I had done previous bits and pieces for TV and Newspapers in my previous role as a Southampton academy coach, but nothing like this. As each of the journalists came up to set their microphone or dictation machines on the desk in front of me, I found myself wondering if they were already dreaming up the headlines before I had said a word. I tried to relax as best I could as the room quietened for the press conference to begin.

    "Hi Tom, Martin Samuel here, Daily Mail. You have today of course been announce as the new manager of Sunderland, how are you feeling? and are you at all worried about taking over what seems to be a poisoned chalice?"

    I gave myself a second to think, knowing that every word I say has the potential to be scrutinised and twisted. "I am really happy to be here. This is a massive club with a massive history. The last few seasons have not been brilliant, but we are all going to do everything in power to turn that around."

    "Bryan Swanson, Sky Sports. What Made you want to take this job and do you think your lack of experience could be a problem?"

    "As I said its a massive club. The opportunity for me to come here and start my managerial career in the Premier League was incredible. I had a series of really positive meetings with the chairman and he bought in to my plans for the club. I dont think experience is going to be the be all and end all to our success. I am here because I have confidence in my own abilities and I believe I can take this club forward."

    "Henry Winter, Daily Telegraph, Do you believe you have the players at your disposal to make a go of it?"

    "There is a good group of lads here, I wont say that a couple of new additions wouldnt help and we will be actively looking for the right players to bring in, but the core is certainly in place to build around."

    "And will you be backed in the transfer market by a chairman who is reportedly looking to sell?"

    "We have some funds available for the right players. The politics surrounding the football club is not something that I want to be involved in at all. I am here for the football and to get this team back to winning ways. I want to deal with the players, and the fans and see if we can build a connection there again."



    (Hi everybody and welcome to my first FM17 story! (Loving the game by the way!) This save is just going to be for a bit of fun, starting off by trying to re-establish Sunderland before seeing just how far I can go in management, I hope you all enjoy! If anybody has any suggestions or anything they would like to see then feel free to drop it in a reply or a comment or message me!)

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    Sunderland A.F.C.

    Founded - 1879

    Stadium - Stadium of Light (49,000 capacity)

    Major Honours - 6 x First Division Champions, 2 x FA Cup winners.

    Rivals - Newcastle, Middlesbrough.


    So just what have i signed up for? Sunderland are the 6th most successful club in English top flight history (Granted their last first division win was before WW2). Famous for an extremely vocal and passionate support, Sunderland's most recent promotion to the Premier League was in 2007 and since then they have established themselves, but it has not been easy going in the last couple of years. It has been solely down to a series of great escapes pulled off by the likes of Gus Poyet, Dick Advocaat and Sam Allardyce that Sunderland have stayed in the Premier League and have looked a completely broken side in recent years.


    An owner that isn't particularly interested, no fresh investment, a stale squad that is short on depth and a poisonous atmosphere around the club are just a few of the problems that I am going to have to deal with running the club.

    So first things first, How does my squad look on paper?

    First Team Squad

    Goalkeepers

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    The whole squad is absolutely riddled with injuries and the goalkeeping department is no different. Vito Mannone is a good stopper but will miss the first 4-5 months of the season with a damaged elbow. Jordan Pickford is therefore the first choice moving forwards. A local lad straight from the academy, he has a big future! Mika will provide backup and cover.

    Defence

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    Lamine Kone was the bright spark of last season while new signings Djilobodji and McNair are capable centre backs. Van Aanholt and Manquillo are likely to be first choice full backs while youngsters Love and Denayer provide depth.

    Midfield


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    By far the weakest area of the squad is central midfield. Khazri could be a massive player for us this year, as could Januzaj (on loan from United) while Duncan Watmore is progressing nicely.

    Attack

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    As I am sure you are all aware, Jermaine Defoe is the main man here. He will need to score goals to keep us in the Premier League as to be honest, I'm not sure Anichebe is up to it.


    The Physios Room


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    That is a lot of long term injuries to a lot of first team players. Larsson and Borini are particularly painful. Just look at the moneys worth of player tied up not being able to play or be sold. This only makes the job even harder.

    The Transfer Kitty

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    Not much room to manuevre in terms of transfers either. We are going to have to spend very wisely indeed to make the most of it.

  3. Good luck mate, whatever you do I'm sure you'll do better than how Moyes has been doing with them in real life... i'll definitely be interested in reading this
    SaintMotbot likes this.

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    So the first logical thing to do seems to be to come up with a plan! To create an identity and a tactical system that can get the best out of the team and one that they can be comfortable playing in. Having looked at the squad I want to try and implement a 4-3-3 system, some people like to call it a 4-1-2-3 wide. Here is an insight in to my reasoning behind it.

    Attacking full backs.

    In Van Aaanholt and Manquillo we have two very aggressive full backs, full of pace, energy and crossing ability. The idea is to give them plenty of license to get forward and create overloads on either side of the pitch. It would be a waste not to utilise them, and asking two attack minded full backs to sit and defend is just not going to end well.

    A solid defence.

    With the full backs pushing forward, it is going to be essential to have a defensive midfielder to drop back into the defence when they are missing. Jan Kirchoff, the towering German is going to be that man, sitting in front of a central defensive partnership of Kone and Djilobodji. These three offer strength, pace and power and can hopefully provide the stability to allow the full backs to push on.

    A mobile front three

    With the full backs bombing on down the flanks, the two wide men in the attacking third are going to act as inside forwards, cutting inside to create space for Manquillo and Van Aanholt. Khazri and Januzaj should be capable of doing this, linking up with the striker and giving the opposition a dilemma as to who to mark, the wingers or the full backs.



    So at first glance that sounds excellent, we have identified some strengths and can play to them. But its not that rosy on closer inspection.


    Central Midfield
    A massive problem area for the squad. With Kirchoff playing in the defensive midfield role and Cattermole and Larsson both injured and out for long periods of time, that leaves us with Rodwell, Ndong and Gooch to fill the two central midfield positions. Rodwell i get the feeling is going to be more suited to the holding role that Kirchoff will be playing and Gooch is only comfortable playing central attacking mid, which leaves us with Ndong. He seemed like a really odd signing when he first arrived from FC Lorient for a record £13.6 million fee. He reminds of Oumar Niasse and Brown Ideye, players who were bought on reputation alone without even watching them play. Having thought about this a bit more however, this seems unfair to draw such a conclusion so early on. Ndong will get a chance to play, but he is going to have massive pressure on his shoulders with that club record transfer fee.


    Striking options
    Well Jermaine Defoe is basically it. As good as he is, I cant see him playing every single minute of every single game this season. Anichebe is poor and Fabio Borini is injured so I am going to have to look at bringing a striker in to the club, one who is capable of passing the ball and linking up play as well as running in behind.




    So what do I need? With just £12 million transfer budget and £36.5k a week spare on the wage budget, I am somehow going to need to find room for three more players minimum.

    The first of these needs to be a midfield creator. Somebody confident on the ball with an eye for a pass. I was watching De Bruyne for City the other day and picked up instantly on the problem Barcelona were having with him. If the defence closed him down, he would ping balls over the top with his wonderful passing range. If they stood off him, he had the dribbling ability and vision to run at them and create panic. This is exactly the sort of player we need in midfield, although I have consoled myself that I wont be able to get anybody quite like De Bruyne.

    The second player I want is a gutsy midfielder. An unsung hero who gets the dirty work done and keeps play ticking over. Steven Davis at Southampton is a great example of this role. He keeps the passing short and controls the tempo, all the while not being afraid to get back and put a defensive shift in. He never does anything special or eye catching but is so important to the cause. Ndong and Rodwell are both options for this role but I would like somebody else for depth and cover if they cant make it.

    Finally I need a striker for some much needed support for Defoe. Tactically I want my striker to come short, collect the ball, lay it off and then instantly spin in behind, dragging defenders around and creating space for the inside forwards, full backs and midfield creator to take advantage of. I know that Defoe is going to be fantastic at this role, but everybody needs a helping hand once in a while right?

  5. Quote Originally Posted by Linecoigne1998 View Post
    Good luck mate, whatever you do I'm sure you'll do better than how Moyes has been doing with them in real life... i'll definitely be interested in reading this
    Thanks man! Looking at this squad doesnt fill me with much hope to be honest!
    Linecoigne1998 likes this.

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    "God Damn it!" I yell as I slam the phone down. I felt a bit sorry for Martyn, our Director of Football on the other end of the phone, who had had to deliver the bad news. The deal we had put in place for my number one transfer target, Alex Mowatt, had fallen through. The kid had decided that he would rather stay with Leeds on a lesser wage than join us and play regular first team football in the Premier League. Screw him, he has no idea the opportunity he has just turned down. I was going to make him the focal point of the whole team and build the side around him. I will just have to find somebody better.

    In unrelated but better news, John O'Shea has agreed to leave the club and has signed for Real Betis on a free transfer. We have enough depth in the squad to cope at centre back without him, and his £47k a week wages needed to be freed up. Once again though, this deal did not go smoothly. There was initially interest from New York City but he ended up rejecting his contract offer. Betis were the only other team interested but would only take him if we continued to pay £11k a week on his contract which is something I was slightly reluctant to do. In the end I decided to let him go, even continuing to pay some of his wage we are saving ourselves £36k a week which gives us a little more room in the transfer market!

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    Two in for Sunderland

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    Craig Bryson arrives at Sunderland's training ground, the Academy of Light.

    Sunderland have today announced the signing of Craig Bryson and Diego Poyet who both join the club on three year contracts. Midfielder Bryson, 29, arrives from Championship side Derby County for a fee believed to be in the region of £6 million.

    "we are delighted to welcome Craig to the club" Said new Sunderland manager Tom Lloyd. "He is a player I have followed for a while, he is capable of bringing real craft to the midfield and can score a goal or two as well"

    Bryson has been capped three times by his native Scotland and said the chance to ply his trade in the Premier League was just too good to turn down.

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    Poyet joined West Ham from Charlton in 2014 for a fee of £2 million.

    Meanwhile, Diego Poyet, son of former Sunderland manager Gus, has joined on a free contract after the expiry of his previous deal with West Ham. Poyet, 21, made just three appearances for the Hammers but says he is looking forward to a fresh start.

    "Sunderland is a great club, any footballer worth his salt wants to play in the Premier League. Its time for me to knuckle down and I think Sunderland is a great opportunity for me to develop as a footballer. Hopefully I can give back to the club as well and help them in this new era under the new manager."
    Telstar likes this.

  8. Great start mate. Not going to be easy for you.

  9. Nice layout so far, but as a Newcastle fan I hope your mission with Sunderland fails, but you get a nice new job with another team

  10. An unsung hero who gets the dirty work done and keeps play ticking over.
    Lee Cattermole When he is back from injury.

    That's all I have to say... Oh and good luck sir

  11. I'll be following this story. I hope you go into depth for the tactics and managing them. Its the side of the game i am useless at.

  12. Quote Originally Posted by Tobey Mason View Post
    Great start mate. Not going to be easy for you.
    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by neavie pops23 View Post
    Nice layout so far, but as a Newcastle fan I hope your mission with Sunderland fails, but you get a nice new job with another team
    Thanks buddy! All I need to do is keep them up.. 17th would be a massive season to be honest. Hopefully further opportunities will come soon enough

    Quote Originally Posted by olabj View Post
    Lee Cattermole When he is back from injury.

    That's all I have to say... Oh and good luck sir
    Mr Yellow Card himself. He is going to have to play a part when he is fit!

    Quote Originally Posted by Matticus88 View Post
    I'll be following this story. I hope you go into depth for the tactics and managing them. Its the side of the game i am useless at.
    Thanks for the support man! I will go as in depth as is practically possible.. It has taken me since FM 2010 to even vaguely understand the tactics on this game, and even now I am caught out by the opposition more often than not! The best way to improve is to be clear how you want your team to play, watch the games and make small tweaks from then keep it simple!

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    So I find myself back here again. The injury situation has now been upgraded to a full blown crisis.

    "How long?" I asked David, our head physio.

    "A month maybe.. he has broken his shoulder, these things dont heal overnight"

    I rubbed my face with my hands "That is not what I wanted to hear.. I understand though. Just get him better, make sure he has everything he needs."

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    When I first looked at the squad on paper, I was concerned. There didnt seem to be any depth at all and the injury list was just terrifying to behold. However when I started looking at potential starting elevens to play in pre-season, I realised that the actual first team squad isnt bad. Injuries are a problem that is completely out of my control, all we can do is wait for the players to rejoin the first team, which means the only issue is depth. With an extremely limited transfer budget by Premier League standards, I formulated a plan to go out and buy players that can play in an emergency and hold their own, but are not necessarily expected to push for a regular first team place. This is completely at odds with most other clubs transfer policies, who generally buy for the first team with the already established first teamers becoming back up, thus improving your squad slowly, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Craig Bryson and Diego Poyet were the first in through the door, and now I am delighted to welcome two new additions to the squad.

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    Graeme Shinnie joins the club from Aberdeen for a fee of £775k. The 25 year old Scottish left back will serve as backup to Van Aanholt, as amazingly we didnt actually have another left back at the club!

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    Looking at his stats he is surprisingly solid! His physicals are decent, he can defend, he has a decent cross on him, teamwork and work rate are good and his determination is off the scale. An added bonus is the leadership he can potentially bring to the team. I am confident he can do well for us if we need to call on him. Also his value is already double what we paid for him and his low wages mean we can sell him on for a profit if it doesnt work out!

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    My second signing is American attacker Julian Green from Bayern Munich for a fee of £1.7 million. The 21 year old is still extremely raw and has probably suffered from a real lack of first team football having not made a single appearance for Bayern, but my scouts reliably inform me he has the potential to be a world beater and I will put some trust in him.

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    He looked to me like he has the makings of a wonderful player. His finishing is good and will only improve while he has the first touch and dribbling stats to make him a nuisance to mark. He can flexibly play as an inside forward or as back up to Defoe up front and I am sure he will be a great long term investment for the club, made evident by the fact his value has already soared to £4.6 million.

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    Finally I have promoted this lad from the academy up and in to the first team. While I dont think he is quite ready, his potential is just too good to ignore and he has been taken under the wing of Jermain Defoe himself who is going to be mentoring him.

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    Kirchhoff pens new Sunderland deal

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    Sunderland defensive midfielder Jan Kirchhoff has today committed his immediate future to the club by signing a new three year contract, keeping him at Sunderland until 2019. The 25 year old German's contract was due to expire at the end of the season but Sunderland have acted quickly to tie him up to a new contract following firm interest from Swansea, Southampton and Schalke.

    "We have received and rejected several approaches for Jan" Said new Sunderland manager Tom Lloyd. "I spoke to the lad personally and explained our situation and he has been fantastic, he has bought in to the vision and has committed himself to the cause."

    It has however been reported that Kirchhoff's new contract contains a minimum fee release clause of £15.5 million which could yet be problematic for Sunderland.

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    In further news, Sunderland midfielder Lynden Gooch has left the club to join Bolton Wanderers on loan in League One. The American was reportedly not part of Lloyd's plans at the Stadium of Light and has gone out to gain some vital experience in the lower leagues.

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    Pre Season

    This was always going to be a massive pre-season for the club. It is going to be absolutely vital that we are picking up points as and when we can at the beginning of the season so the lads needed to buy into the mentality and playing style that I am trying to bring to the club. To try and help achieve this the Chairman paid for us all to go on a pre season tour of South Africa for some warm weather training, warm up matches, team bonding and maybe even a bit of a safari!

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    Overall I was extremely pleased with the start we made and the progress of the group in South Africa. Three clean sheets in a row show that we are capable of producing decent defensive displays, even if they are few and far between. Wahbi Khazri was heavily among the goals as was Jermaine Defoe, while Ndong picked up his first goal in club colours as well.

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    After our training camp, I took the opportunity to send some of the kids and fringe players away on two away friendlies to Belgium and Portugal to try and raise their fitness levels to an acceptable level. We lost both games, only scoring the one goal, putting serious question marks over the heads of the likes of Steven Pienaar, Donald Love, Jason Denayer and Victor Anichebe. No need to panic just yet as the goal was to improve fitness, not win, but its something to keep an eye on.

    Finally we hosted Monchengladbach in what was very much the glamour tie of our pre-season and was arranged as a treat for the home fans at the Stadium of Light. As this was our final game of preparation, I went for a strong side that looked something like my planned starting line-up for our first game of the season. A fantastic win is what followed that gives us real momentum and hope going in to the competitive start of the season. Gladbach are a really decent side with players like Kramer, Hazard, Sommer and Wendt and it shows the progress we have made that we can beat them, even if it was only a friendly.

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    Sunderland Vs Hull
    13th August, 2016.

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    Team News

    So it is finally here, our first game of the season and my first competitive game in management, and its a big one! Both ourselves and Hull are widely tipped to be relegated so taking three points off of eachother at this early stage could be crucial. Didier Ndong was passed a late fitness test and is fit enough to play 60 minutes so is straight back in the team. Bryson, Januzaj, Djiloboji and Manqulli all make their debuts.

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    A MASSIVE win to get us up and running in the Premier League and it was thoroughly deserved. We absolutely battered them but it took a little longer than planned to get the breakthrough. Duncan Watmore turned out to be the hero off the bench as he drilled in a long range effort to give us the lead before Papy Djilobodji doubled it with a thumping header from a corner. Maloney scored a screamer for Hull to just make it tight at the end but we held out for three huge points and the perfect start. More positives included an assist on debut for Craig Bryson and a debut off the bench for Julian Green.

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    We dominated the game through the sheer number of shots we managed.

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    "Now that is what I'm talking about lads!!" I shout when the commotion finally settles down. "If we play like that in every game this season we are going to be doing a lot more than simply fighting off relegation! that is exactly the drive, the desire and the passion that I want! and the fans are going to respond to it! From now on.. I want an all out charm offensive, I want you thanking and applauding the fans after every match, I want you signing extra autographs, I want you thanking them on social media after matches, I want you donating shirts and boots to charity. The fans are vital to everything we have here at this club and with them on side, we can really start to build something special here!"

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    A decent draw in the 2nd round of the newly branded EFL Cup see's us host Milwall at the Stadium of Light next week. If the fixture list allows it, I want to play a strong side for this one. The more games we can win early on, the better morale will get and hopefully we can create a winning mentality. At the moment we very much head into games hoping to get something out of it rather than expecting. We are going to need to try and turn that round.

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    Chelsea Vs Sunderland
    20th August, 2016.

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    Team News

    An unchanged starting line up from our first game takes on Antonio Conte's new look Chelsea, playing a 3-4-3 formation. In a slightly unexpected move, Pedro plays up front in what we can assume is a false 9 position, meaning our defensive line is going to have to be properly on guard to cope with their movement. Duncan Watmore picked up a knock in training and damaged his foot, meaning he has to sit this game out with Victor Anichebe taking his place on the bench.

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    A really tight game and another promising performance as we narrowly lose out to Chelsea. We were in the game for the full 90 minutes and created a couple of half chances, so I am not overly disappointed with this. A little more luck and some slightly better finishing and we would have shown we were capable of going away to the big teams and challenging for results.

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    2nd Round Tie
    Sunderland Vs Milwall
    23rd August, 2016.

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    Team News

    Defoe is rested, giving Green a chance to play up front for his first start. McNair is in for Kone who is rested while Rodwell gets a chance in place of Ndong. Graeme Shinnie also replaces Van Aanholt to finish the four changes to the side.

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    Another really positive result in another game that we dominated. Milwall took an eary lead with an absolutely beastly goal but we kept our cool and worked our way back into the match fairly quickly without panicking. Khazri got his first of the season and Bryson got his first for the club as we took another step towards some form and momentum. Bryson was super today, completing 108 passes, achieving an 89% passing accuracy, winning 100% of his tackles and scoring the winning goal, he picks up the man of the match award and justifies a portion of his transfer fee. He is proving to be that controlling player that I wanted.
    Last edited by SaintMotbot; 05/11/2016 at 01:04 AM.

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    A tricky draw away to Hull for the third round of the EFL Cup but we will go there with confidence having beaten them on the opening day of the season. Ideally I would have liked a home draw, but we can only play the fixtures that are in front of us.

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    Sunderland Vs Burnley
    27th August, 2016.

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    Team News

    We revert back to our original and successful starting line up with Defoe, Ndong, Van Aanholt and Kone all reclaiming their starting places.

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    Another huge win as we take three more points off of relegation rivals! I was so pleased to see Jermaine Defoe open his seasons scoring tally with a brilliant run and neat finish but then disaster struck. Both Januzaj and Manquillo were forced off with injury within a minute of eachother and then another minute after that Burnley equalised through Patrick Bamford. I was really worried that this string of set backs would damage our fragile side but I ended up being so proud of everybody. The response was amazing and Van Aanholt popped up just a few minutes later to restore our lead and seal the win.

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    "So come on then, whats the damage?"

    "good news or bad news?" Ish Rehman, our Chief Doctor asked.

    "Bad first, get it over with"

    "Adnan has torn a muscle in his groin, we are looking at 5-6 weeks, best case scenario."

    "Please say the good news is much better than that"

    "It is, Javi's thigh injury is just a bruise, not a hamstring. He will be ready for the next game after the International break."

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    August Review

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    A dream start to my time at Sunderland! The only thing that I would have wanted that we havnt managed yet is a clean sheet, but to be honest I dont care if we concede 200 goals this season as long as score 201 and stay up. Progress in the cup, two massive wins against relegation candidates and a decent performance away to Chelsea fill me with hope for the future.



    Table
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    Very early on in the season, so early in fact the table means practically nothing but it is nice to look at it and see us in 5th place!




    Player of the Month
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    Craig Bryson. I bought him in to be the main man in our midfield, and he has been just that. Four appearances, a goal, an assist, 90% pass accuracy, one man of the match and an average rating of 7.47. He deserves this and has instantly become a huge player for us.




    September Preview
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    A really tough month that is going to test how far we have really come. I would honestly be happy with just a point from our three Premier League games, but I think we need to go away to Stoke and target more than that.

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    Stoke Vs Sunderland
    12th September, 2016.

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    Team news

    Javi Manquillo is fit enough to keep his spot at right back, but Adnan Januzaj is forced to the sidelines, meaning Duncan Watmore comes in to take his place after shaking off his own knock. Otherwise it is a very stable and balanced team. I would be lying if I said I wasnt worried about players like Rodwell wanting first team football, but I really feel selection consistency is more important right now.

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    I said before that I would be happy with a point here and I haven't changed my mind. It was a scrappy game in truth with clear chances hard to come by, but it is our first clean sheet of the season which can be taken as another sign of progress!

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    Tottenham Vs Sunderland
    17th September, 2016.

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    Team News

    A couple of changes to the side for the away trip to Spurs. Jack Rodwell replaces Didier Ndong for a more defence minded presence in the centre of midfield, while the roll has also changed from box to box to ball winning midfielder. Julian Green also comes in to the side and gets a chance to impress as Duncan Watmore gets a rest.

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    Back down to earth with a bump. The scoreline flattered us if im being honest, the first half in particular we were dreadful and completely outclassed. We had a bit of a tactical reshuffle at half time and Craig Bryson grabbed his second goal for the club early in the second half to offer a glimmer of hope, but Tottenham quickly shut us down and eased to victory.

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    3rd Round Tie
    Hull Vs Sunderland
    21st September, 2016.

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    Team News

    Standard rotation for a cup game to try and keep the squad fresh. Shinnie, McNair and Watmore are in for Van Aanholt, Kone and Defoe, with Green going up top to play the strikers role.

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    Disappointed. We had the better chances in the game but once again we just struggled to find the net. Being knocked out the cup is not the end of the world but it is a shame. At least we will have nothing but league games until after Christmas now.

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    Sunderland Vs Manchester City
    24th September, 2016.

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    Team News

    A slight change in shape with the wingers dropping deeper just in an attempt to stay a little more compact and deal with the wide threat of City. Slightly counter-intuitively perhaps, I have also instructed the team to press and close down and get stuck in. I dont want City to have any time on the ball and im hoping some work rate and application can neutralise them. Julain Green starts on the right as Januzaj is injured and Watmore isnt confident playing in midfield. Ndong also takes his place back from Rodwell.

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    A very grumpy manager today. I told the players to stay tight to City and just 13 minutes in Van Aanholt decided he didnt want to mark Aguero and City took the lead with their first shot on goal. After we went behind we were always going to struggle and City just ended up walking all over us.

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    "Lee and Billy are here to see you sir" Said the voice down the phone.

    "Excellent, send them on in"

    In walked Lee Cattermole and Billy Jones, both still in their training gear from their first full sessions backs with the group.

    "Good to see you both lads" I shook each of their hands "Look I will get straight to the point. This is a truly massive season for the club and we have made a decent enough start, but I am really reluctant to upset the balance and the chemistry of the side. You both have quality, I dont doubt that, but you are really going to have to convince me to give you both a run in the team. We have players in your positions who have been doing really well, you need to step up."

    "I like a challenge, Wont let you down boss" Said Cattermole.

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    September Review

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    I said at the beginning of the month that we need at least a point from those three games and we got it, but what is concerning is the performance we have put in. An entire calendar month with just a single goal is not good enough. If we are going to beat the drop we need to start sticking the ball in the back of the net.



    Table
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    Our beginning of the season surge has now worn off and we find ourselves back down nearer where we should be. Just three points off the bottom of the table is a little close for comfort, but on the plus side we have already played Tottenham, City and Chelsea.





    Player of the Month
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    I'm going to give it to Papy Djilobodji this month. While nobody has played brilliantly this month, Papy has been an ever present and has a calm presence at the back. He is only going to improve and I think there is a quality player in there.





    October fixtures
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    Things dont get any easier as we welcome Liverpool to the Stadium of light before facing a tough away trip to St Marys to face Southampton. The games against Swansea and Middlesbrough (both below us in the table) are massive.
    TheOtherSpecialOne likes this.

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    Sunderland Vs Liverpool
    1st October, 2016.

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    Team News

    Duncan Watmore is the only change as he comes in to replace Julian Green in the starting lineup. Lee Cattermole passed his pre-match medical but the physios dont think he can do more than 45 minutes so he takes a place on the bench. After just one goal in six games, Defoe has been relieved of any responsibility in terms of build up and tracking back, and has been told to do what he does best.. Poach.

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    Cruel. We were absolutely superb and deserved those three points but it just wasnt to be. Looking back at the City game, I hadnt realised just how negative I was being at the time. It struck me that we were never going to stay in the division by just trying to neutralise the opposition, we had to stick to our style of football and try and create. We bossed Liverpool for pretty much the whole game, restricting them to long shots with solid defence before springing lethal counter-attacks, two of which were finished by Khazri (A screamer of a goal) and Defoe (The gamble paid off). Although disheartening, that was a huge performance and one that fills me with optimism. This point could be crucial come the end of the season.

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    Last edited by SaintMotbot; 06/11/2016 at 02:00 AM.

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    Another massive boost for the club as Adnan Januzaj returns from injury and will be available for selection against Southampton in our next game. Januzaj is a bit of a tricky one to be honest, he has plenty of potential but he doesn't really influence games enough for my liking. He almost finds himself drifting in and out of games, which if you are a striker, you can almost get away with, but a winger cannot get away with it in this side. He's going to do well to displace Watmore and to be honest, he needs to improve if he doesn't want his loan terminated in January. We are paying £60k a week in wages to have him here, and he is taking up one of our precious two domestic based loan slots.

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    Southampton Vs Sunderland
    15th October, 2016.

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    Team news

    Lee Cattermole gets a chance to make an impression with his first start of the season as he replaces Didier Ndong who is rested. Januzaj is fit enough for a place on the bench and a possible impact substitution, but the impressive Duncan Watmore keeps his place. With Van Dijk, Fonte and Romeu all missing for the hosts, I really fancy our chances if we can get at them.

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    Another good point away from home as we hold Southampton. We didnt control this game like we did the Liverpool one, but the win was there for the taking. Some point soon we are going to have to start converting these promising performances into results. Van Aanholt made amends for giving away the penalty against Liverpool by smashing a free kick home this time out, but Pickford should have done a lot better with Redmonds scuffed shot that turned out to be the equaliser.

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    Sunderland Vs Swansea
    21st October, 2016.

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    Team News

    Again just the one change, and again its that same position as Jack Rodwell comes in for Lee Cattermole who is rested as part of a controlled comeback from injury.

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    Huge. We are winning games when they matter and its another three points off of relegation rivals. Duncan Watmore was the main man again, thumping home after good work from Victor Anichebe for the assist. It took a good long time to make the breakthrough but we kept the faith and it paid off. More minutes for Cattermole and Januzaj off the bench in their recoveries.

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    Middlesbrough Vs Sunderland
    31st October, 2016.

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    Team News

    An enforced change as Mr Consistent Craig Bryson picks up a slight knock and is forced to miss out. Didier Ndong takes his place in the side while Jack Rodwell keeps his place due to a lack of fitness for Lee Cattermole. Watmore, Khazri, Defoe is a front line that is working well for us and seems nice and balanced, so no need for any change up front.

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    This is starting to become a really bad habit. We were superb, for the whole game.. until five seconds from the end of injury time in the 2nd half when Jordan Rhodes salvaged a point for bottom of the table Middlesbrough. Jermaine Defoe had sprung in to life, smashing home a brace but it wasnt quite enough. Gutted.

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    October Review

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    A good but hugely frustrating month for us. 6 points really should have been 10 but we threw the Liverpool and Middlesbrough games away by conceding late goals. Plenty of signs of progress however as we score in every game and manage a clean sheet against Swansea. Even with all the positive signs though, it is only one win in the last eight games which is not good enough.



    Table
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    We sit nicely in mid table, even though just four points separate 8th from 18th. As a Southampton fan I am getting so much pleasure from seeing Everton flounder at th ebottom of the table and despite our average form, we still find ourselves ahead of Liverpool.




    Player of the Month
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    3 goals in 4 games has seen Jermaine Defoe start to pick his form up and its showing in our improving fortunes as a squad. Since his change in role to a poacher he has come alive and has been the active spearhead we have been looking for.




    November fixtures
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    We need to take advantage of these fixtures! Watford are currently flying high but we need points. If we can get ourselves out of the relegation dog fight early on, it could be hugely beneficial to our season.

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    West Brom Vs Sunderland
    5th November, 2016.

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    Team News

    The midfield is shuffled again with Kirchhoff this time the one to lose his place due to poor form. Lee Cattermole will anchor the midfield with Ndong and a fit again Bryson just ahead of him, otherwise no change.

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    Robbed. Yet another game where we played really well and yet failed to reap any reward as we lose what felt like a real 6 pointed to West Brom. Jordan Pickford allowed Berahino's shot to squirm through his legs mid way through the first half, with the rest of the match being a story of our wastefulness in front of goal.

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    Terrible news for the club as Jordan Pickford picks up an injury in training and will miss the next month or so! He has been really good in between the sticks this season, barring a couple of mistakes, and he will be sorely missed! Mannone is still a couple of weeks away from recovery which means Mika is going to be playing in goal for us. While he is steady and reliable enough, its not ideal.

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    Sunderland Vs Bournemouth
    19th November, 2016.

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    Team News

    Mika starts in goal, replacing the injured Jordan Pickford and Januzaj comes in for Watmore on the right wing. Otherwise an unchanged line up from the side that lost to West Brom.

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    What. A. Performance. After Lee Cattermole somewhat unsurprisingly got himself sent off, I feared the worst, and that feeling wasn't helped when Callum Wilson opened the scoring for Bournemouth. We had a tactical reshuffle and went for a narrow diamond with the attacking midfielder missing. It took less than a minute for Craig Bryson to hit an unstoppable finish into the bottom corner from outside the area. Anichebe and Defoe struck up a really good partnership up front and eventually Anichebe flicked a header on for Ndong to use his own head and bury it in the back of the net. This win could define our whole season, I am delighted with the comeback, especially with only 10 men on the pitch. Might have to consider trying the diamond from now on. We have played 12 games this season and only scored 13 goals, time for two up top?

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    The good news keeps up coming following the win against Bournemouth. Both Vito Mannone and Fabio Borini have both returned to training following their lengthy spells on the sidelines. While neither are expected to play serious minutes against Watford, it is really reassuring to know that with these players coming back we have a little bit more depth and perhaps some more quality too.

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    Sunderland Vs Watford
    26th November, 2016.

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    Team News

    So there is the new system, and plenty of changes to go with it. Manquillo and Cattermole are both suspended so in come Billy Jones for his first start of the season and Jan Kirchhoff. Anichebe partners Defoe up front with Januzaj narrowly pipping Khazri for the attacking midfield spot just behind the front two.

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    Two wins on the bounce as the move to the new system works a treat. Offensively we were superb today, I couldnt have asked for me. Unfortunately we look more than a little leaky at the back which is going to have be tightened up over the next few games by tweaking the tactic. Twice we took the lead in the first half and twice we were pegged back instantly, but Defoe's late decider didnt leave any time for a third comeback for Watford. The partnership of Anichebe and Defoe is blossoming as they both got on the scoresheet and assisted all the goals for eachother, teamwork. This win takes us up on to 19 points which I think is probably half of what we need to stay up, a promising sign after just 13 games.

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    November Review

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    A great month! The West Brom result was frustrating but the manner of the win over Bournemouth was a real turning point, especially when it was followed up with a successful change of tactic, another win and goals for both our main strikers. When you throw in to the mix that Borini and Mannone are ready to return as well we are looking in really good shape.


    Table
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    We are sitting pretty in the table, 7 points clear of the relegation zone and only 3 behind the Europa League places. We cannot afford to get complacent however as we have some tough games ahead and a couple of losses in a row can see us slip all the way back down into the danger zone. How Ronald Koeman is still in a job I have no idea while Middlesrough look as good as gone already.





    Player of the Month
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    Victor Anichebe is going to shade the award this month after his contributions in our last two games. He single handedly changed the game against Bournemouth while a goal and two assists against Watford saw him unlucky not to be named man of the match. Very glad we didnt sell him at the start of the season.





    December Fixtures
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    What a month of football. A jam packed schedule will test our squad to the full while we face crucial games against 15th place West Ham, 17th place Palace, 18th place Hull and 19th place Everton.

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    Crystal Palace Vs Sunderland
    3rd December, 2016.

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    Team News

    Vito Mannone makes his first appearance of the season as he is fit enough to start in goal today while Javi Manquillo makes his return from suspension at right back. Khazri is in for Januzaj in the attacking midfield position while Fabio Borini is fit enough for the bench and Lee Cattermole is left out entirely.

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    Poor. Plenty of possession and plenty of chances but nothing to show for it. Januzaj hitting the bar is as close as we came, although Mandanda made a couple of excellent saves to deny Defoe. The leaky defence is at it again, although it seems to be the defensive midfield spot thats struggling as both Cattermole and Kirchoff have been poor of late, maybe time for Rodwell or Poyet?

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    Right on cue, here comes our latest batch of injuries. Fabio Borini is going to be a big miss as he picks up yet another training ground injury and will miss the next 4-5 weeks. I think I also may have cursed young Diego Poyet by mentioning his name. Just as he is about to get a look in the first team, he tears his hamstring and will miss 2-3 months of football. Awful timing for the lad.

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    FA CUP THIRD ROUND DRAW

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    A tricky fixture against Southampton awaits us in the third round of the FA Cup. At least its at home.

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    Manchester United Vs Sunderland
    11th December, 2016.

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    Team News

    McNair gets a chance against his old side as he replaces the out of form Kone while Rodwell gets a chance in defensive midfield in an otherwise unchanged lineup. Januzaj misses out as he is ineligible against his parent club.

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    Well that was painful, but was probably to be expected. It's not even like we were dreadful, they were just so good! We could not cope with the movement of Depay, Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Mata and Zlatan and our already fragile defence just fell to pieces. On to the next one!

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    Sunderland Vs Arsenal
    14th December, 2016.

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    Team News

    Cattermole and Kone are both restored to their places in the starting line up in an otherwise unchanged side sporing a few tactical tweaks.

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    Not good enough when you consider we were playing against 10 men for two thirds of the match following Coquelins rash two footed tackle. We came close on a number of occasions but we just didnt have that clinical edge. We now find ourselves 16th in the table and only 4 points off the relegation zone, amazing how quickly things can change in football.

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