Sunderland look doomed and, in honesty, have done for weeks. Games that must produce points produce none or, as against Burnley and West Ham, just one. Here, James Reynolds, a freelance sportswriter, looks at the reality staring David Moyes in the face. We can question some of his conclusions (why, for example, would Moyes’s career be over if we went down?) but it’s mostly hammer hits nail on head …
With six Premier League games remaining, Sunderland need a miracle to avoid relegation to the Championship. David Moyes was thrown in the deep end a little at the start of the campaign but his side hasn’t been anywhere near good enough.
If Sunderland do go down, Moyes’s managerial career will be all but over and Sunderland will need to make some major changes ahead of an attempt to secure promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking.
Moyes’s men have won just five league games all season; it just hasn’t been good enough. They have been victorious only once since mid-December and the Sunderland boss must take some responsibility for the lack of effort and substance.
Last year, Sunderland relied on Jermain Defoe to keep them up but even his goals – 14 so far compared with 18 for all of last season – have been insufficient to get the team out of trouble. Recently, even his scoring has dried up and without them, Sunderland have struggled to score at all. And now time is almost up.
To be fair to Moyes, he inherited a weak Sunderland side and has had little time to mix things up at the Stadium of Light. When Sam Allardyce announced that he was leaving the club for the England national role last summer, Moyes seemed the best of a bad set of options, but he didn’t really have a chance to assess the squad and make wholesale changes.
Consequently, Sunderland have paid the price for lack of preparation, although you could claim that Allardyce left his successor in the lurch – you only need to look at how Crystal Palace are doing with him in charge to remember how effective he is.
Amazing how much of this Allardyce did at Sunderland too. He's got a clearly-defined system. And boy does it work. https://t.co/KawZVxSk38
— Chris Young (@cysportspress) April 11, 2017
Nor has Moyes has helped himself. He has found himself in the media eye in recent weeks for his actions off the pitch and the pressure is clearly getting to him.
Back in August, the former Everton boss probably assumed Sunderland could get by with one or two signings – a naïve belief. Given the weaknesses in the squad, and the certainty that the few key members look likely to leave if relegation cannot be avoided, an entire upheaval is needed in the near future. Even if Moyes somehow guided Sunderland to safety, massive change is needed.
Punters can back SAFC at 33/1 to avoid the drop this season and, due to their precarious position, they may look for offers on comparison websites such as www.latestbettingsites.co.uk before parting with their cash. Sunderland’s struggles have been well-documented in recent weeks; is there still time, and a slender hope for Moyes’s men to rise to a enormous challenge (and hope other clubs falter)?
Until the 2-2 draw at home to West Ham, Sunderland had failed to score in more than 11 hours of top flight football. The point from that game was of little help in the desperate battle to stay up. Nothing short of five wins from the final six games is likely to be enough to achieve that miracle.
Further draws are not good enough. There are four theoretically winnable games left before back-to-back away fixtures against Arsenal and Chelsea and even those games must produce points to stand any chance of survival. Five years ago, and with more breathing space before the last day of the season, Moyes might have been backed to pull it off it.
But he wears the look of a beaten man who knows in his heart that keeping Sunderland in the top flight may be a step too far for any mortal.