Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Adam Johnson has so far failed to justify his 12 million (Dh66.6m) price tag since joining from Manchester City last summer. AP Photo
Adam Johnson has so far failed to justify his 12 million (Dh66.6m) price tag since joining from Manchester City last summer. AP Photo

Alarming slump should ring bells at Sunderland

The problem seems in part to be a recent history replete with long runs of hopelessness, writes Jonathan Wilson.

If any doubt lingered before, none does now: Sunderland are in the relegation fight.

On Sunday, they played for an hour against a Norwich City side reduced to 10 men by the dismissal of their goalkeeper Mark Bunn, yet could only draw.

That makes it three points from the last seven games, leaving them just four points above third-from-bottom Wigan Athletic, who have a game in hand.

Their next two games are at home to Manchester United and away to Chelsea. By the time they go to Newcastle United on April 13 for the Tyne-Wear derby, they could be in the Premier League relegation zone.

It is, frankly, a baffling position for them to be in. Theirs is not a bad side and, in Martin O'Neill, Sunderland have the manager they have yearned after for a decade.

In beating Manchester City and West Ham United earlier in the season they were excellent.

In several games they have looked the better side but have leaked soft goals and failed to turn basic control into chances and goals.

There has been, perhaps, a lack of hardness, a sloppiness, and, more recently, a dreadful lack of flair, something that has not been helped by the switch in formations from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2.

The effectiveness of the winger James McClean has been severely reduced as defenders noticed the Irishman is almost entirely left-footed.

Adam Johnson has been only fitfully effective since his move from Manchester City in August, while Stephane Sessegnon has failed to build on a promising first season in England last year - a problem apparently caused by the difficulty he had moving his family to England.

But Sunderland still should not be fighting relegation.

The problem seems in part to be a recent history replete with long runs of hopelessness: eight games without a victory at the end of last season; one point from nine games in 2010/11; 14 games without a triumph in 2009/10; one win in 13 in 2008/09; one win in 12 in 2007/08; in 2005/06 they accrued just 15 points all season; and in 2002/03 they took just a point from the final 19 matches to end with 19 points.

The traumas of those past slumps are bubbling to the surface, always ready to be reawakened.

At the Stadium of Light the belief that everything is about to go wrong never leaves.

That might be realistic, but the problem is that the instinctive negativity makes the lengthy slides all the harder to turn round.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Shah Rukh Khan performs at the IPL Gala dinner to open IPL VII at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi.

In pictures: Shah Rukh Khan stars at IPL Gala dinner in Abu Dhabi

The superstar entertainer Shah Rukh Khan on stage last night at a gala dinner to launch the Indian Premier League cricket tournament.

No words can describe this April 17, your captions will

Have a catchy caption for this picture. Share it with us and we might publish it and reward you.

 When this 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp goes under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on June 17, it is expected to attract a world record bid for a single stamp of up to $20 million (Dh73.4m). Courtesy Sotheby’s

Rare 1856 stamp up for auction at Sotheby’s

This is one of the world’s rarest stamps and when it goes up for auction in June it should fetch $20million. Its history since it was issued in 1856 is fascinating – and includes one murderous chapter, as Jonathan Gornall reports

 This Dh17,000 Miele system can prepare your choice of coffee - from capuccino to espresso - at a touch of a button. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Miele puts art in coffee making

Miele has devoted itself to the art of preparing the black liquid with its beautifully designed coffee machines, living up to its mantra of turning kitchens into cafés.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Amir Khan, during a workout at the Gloves Community Centre on March 24, 2014 in Bolton, England, says his fight will be the real main event in Las Vegas on May 3. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Amir Khan says bout with Luis Collazo ‘will steal the show’ in Las Vegas on May 3

British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan says his fight with Luis Collazo will be the main attraction on same fight card led by Floyd Mayweather Jr and Marcos Maidana, writes Omar Al Raisi.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National