Bournemouth and Watford; Norwich and Leicester. What about Aston Villa? And what about us?

John McCormick:
John McCormick: reading the ads: looking for one saying “Centre forward, wants club..”

There’s a week to go, more or less, to the big kick-off so it’s time to revisit our dodgy numbers relegation stakes. 6,373 votes were cast in our poll, with Bournemouth and Watford being consistently clear favourites for the drop since the early days:

Relegation poll results 28th July
Relegation poll results 28th July

Sunderland have been in third place since fans of other clubs were invited to take part. Were our voters looking through the prism of reality, like football fans always do, or could it be their hearts ruled their heads? Did fans of other clubs seek revenge because I had the temerity to suggest they won’t stay up?

Surely not, you’re probably thinking, fans would never behave in such a biased way,

and nor would any true fan ever deny reality. But, just in case one or two did, fourth and fifth favourites Leicester and Norwich have made up the numbers in our relegation watch.

What’s been going on since the poll opened?

Bournemouth 

They kept Callum Wilson, which will please their fans, on top of which Tyrone Mings came in from Ipswich for a reputed £8 million, and another 4 players came in on free transfers. One, keeper Artur Boric, was there as a loanee and played a key part in their promotion with about 50% of his starts resulting in clean sheets. Another, Sylvain Distin, is now 37 and must be pushing it, even though his pedigree includes starts alongside Jack Rodwell. I can’t say much about the other two but I’m sure Bournemouth fans will be letting us know how good they are.

Especially as I have to say sorry, Bournemouth. Even with Callum Wilson that won’t be enough.

Watford

Watford have been a lot busier than Bournemouth, with ten arrivals. A record-breaking deal brought in Etienne Capoue from Spurs but although some of the other new players have International and Champions league appearances to their credit they don’t appear to have much Premier League experience.

It’s a tricky one, made trickier by the managerial merry-go-round. Dealing with Asamoah Gyan at Al Ain is no preparation for the Premier league. Will the new manager cope? Will the new players gel? I think they’ll struggle but, no doubt, Watford fans will soon be letting me know I’m wrong.

Norwich

Norwich have been very quiet. They brought in only two players. Both are from West Brom so they have considerable PL experience and have shown they can fight a relegation battle. But will they be enough? I’m not convinced.

Leicester City 

Robert Huth’s loan deal was instrumental in Leicester’s great escape so fans will be pleased the move has been made permanent, and I can’t imagine any forward will look forward to playing against him. I do wonder, however, if his knee injuries will cramp his style.

Leicester’s other two deals move in players from the Bundesliga. Interesting and potentially tasty, will they be enough to overcome the loss of a few of the seasoned veterans who helped them stay up last season? And, like Watford, they have new manager. He does have PL experience but it was over ten years ago, when he brought in Bolo Zenden, among others, in a £30 million spending spree. Then he used up a further £120 million when Roman Abramovitch arrived and still only finished second. Time will tell if he can do anything without money, there are many who think he’ll struggle.

I’ll also be keeping an eye on Aston Villa. One of the clubs in the frame last year and sliding downwards for much of the season, they did revive under Tim Sherwood. For this season they’ve had a bit of a revolving door, with seven players coming in (and more to follow, apparently) and ten moving out. I wonder what effect this will have, and how much Benteke contributed to Sherwood’s new manager bounce. In other words, will Sherwood manage to maintain a 43% win record? If he does he could be almost safe by Christmas and he’d finish the season with over 50 points.

And then there’s us. We’ve strengthened our defence but that’s about it. The latest rumour is that Whickham’s on his way. I wouldn’t complain if we sold him, Danny Graham (I saw him score) and Fletcher for dog meat. We wouldn’t get much but we’d free up some wage money and we’d maybe get in someone who could hit a barn door.

How many game will he miss?
How many games will he miss?

And that’s before we discuss the midfield, where Catts, who will miss some games, and Seb Larssen , who won’t stop running, won’t be enough. It’s time for Giacherrini and Rodwell to step up.
Will they?

If not, don’t worry. there’s a further month during which players can climb in or out of the window, and the gaffer must have his eyes on others…
… I hope.

And with another week to go I might as well keep the poll running:

[polldaddy poll=8923571]

See you soon. Roll on Saturday week

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9 thoughts on “Bournemouth and Watford; Norwich and Leicester. What about Aston Villa? And what about us?”

  1. 12th place, John! 12th! I should have put some money down!

    Hope your boys survive. Come on Big Sam.

  2. Hello again!

    I commented on your last relegation prospects article back in June. I said that Watford would finish 12th. OK so I was probably still riding high in the euphoria of promotion at that point but still strongly believe that we won’t be relegated. I believe I said that all we need for survival were a couple of more defensive-minded midfielders and who did we bring in? Only Etienne Capoue and Valon Behrami. People keep talking about how our new signings don’t have premier league experience, but these two, our most important signings by far, do.

    The only thing I am concerned about is our players having enough time to gel. The tactics and formation isn’t an issue, as Jakanovic tinkered with no less that 6 different formations last season. The team is flexible. But if, as pre-season looks, we are going to be starting with 6-7 new players in our starting lineup, then how well and how quickly these players can work effectively together is going to have a huge impact on our season. That said, I predict a strong second half to the season, as our team continue to get to know each other, As a result, our survival may come later rather than sooner.

    One last thing. You mentioned the biased viewpoints of non-sunderland fans, when referring to your data. But the last time you posted this, only Sunderland fans were permitted to vote!? The data now is much more accurate. I’ll tell you why: I recently read a Watford article, on a watford fan site. There was a poll: Will Watford avoid relegation? The result? 96% of people said that Watford would avoid relegation. Do not for a second believe that the views of your own fans is unbiased and objective; After all, I also said that Watford would finish 12th!!

    Harry Hornet

    p.s. Norwich have not signed enough players and will go down. Bournemouth wasted all their money on a young, overrated and over-priced defender, and will go down. Who will join them? I think we all may be in a fight not to finish 18th.

    • Hi, Harry.
      The poll’s been live for quite a few weeks. It has always been open to anyone but only SAFC. fans were likely to have seen it in the first week. After that week a lot of fans from other clubs visited the site and they have now had opportunities to vote in three or four posts. The difference in the increases in votes for Sunderland compared to the other clubs made me suspect many of these visitors weren’t happy so gave one relegation vote to SAFC and one each to two other clubs. E.g. Watford fans voted for SAFC, and two from Bournemouth, Leicester or Norwich. Bournemouth fans voted for SAFC and two from Leicester, Norwich and Watford. And so on, with the result that SAFC are in the third relegation spot.

      Sunderland fans biased? Never. Not possible. No, I don’t believe it. Nah, can’t be. No chance. Nah! and Nah again.

      John Mac

  3. I think it speaks volumes of the caliber of the club that nine seasons in, we still can’t look forward to see how far we can climb in the Prem, but reflexively peer down below us, desperate to find three sad-sack outfits in worse shape than ourselves.

    Negative thinking definitely, but brought on by club management that appears to always be a day late and a dollar short.

  4. We’re constantly told that your position in the PL doesn’t lie. I haven’t seen us finish 18th, 19th or 20th over recent years so as poor as we can be we nonetheless fully deserve to be in there.

  5. Watford, Bomo & Sunderland. Watford & Bomo have no experience, and I’m sick of watching Sunderland waste a space in the prem. Sunderland are like the homeless man’s Real Madrid (the way the club operates stinks). You boys don’t deserve to be there…simple as that.

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