“Sunderland are in trouble” is a statement that seems to come around every single Premier League season. They start a season with optimism that fades rapidly, then for a manager to get sacked only for another man to come in and save them before the cycle repeats again.
However, this season is when they break that cycle. This year, the Black Cats have run out of lives.
10 games in, Sunderland have just two points, a new Premier League record. They have scored seven goals, the worst in the division, and have conceded 20, the second-worst record in the division.
Those plain statistics are bad enough but when you take a magnifying glass into why they have been so poor in every category and you start seeing what looks like the end of the Stadium of Light in the top flight.
Let’s start with the points total, with draws coming against Southampton and West Bromwich Albion. The first, against a notoriously slow side with a new manager, could have been a home win if they held out but an 85th minute goal from Jay Rodriguez put a pin in that idea.
In the West Brom game, they fought back to get a point in the final minute. In two games against big sides, Manchester City and Arsenal, they managed to pull back level after starting slowly but simply don’t have the quality to deny them for an entire game.
A lot of the others were simple wins for the opposition but the Crystal Palace defeat was the toughest pill to swallow. They went 2-0 up and in full control, only for the defence to buckle almost immediately and with a lack of commanding leadership at the back, they lost 3-2.
The attack has been abysmal and would have been even worse without Jermaine Defoe. The former England international has five of those seven goals, Patrick van Aanholt has the other two, which really highlights the real lack of quality coming from their midfield.
Add to that, the club have only had two assists all season, one from Duncan Watmore and one from Jack Rodwell. While the latter will be lampooned for not being part of a winning starting line-up in 33 games, which is an astonishing statistic, it should be the other creative flair players that should take the real flack.
Former Moyes favourite Steven Pienaar looks past his best, while both Wahbi Khazri and Adnan Januzaj are luxury players that a club like this can ill-afford to carry. None are particularly defensive-minded, none have contributed in the way they should have and Moyes playing at least two of them each game along with Watmore shows a real disregard for their current plight.
Mix in a dash of Jan Kirchoff not continuing to impress and Didier Ndong slowly adapting to the Premier League and you have an awful mix. It’s haphazard, Moyes is constantly shifting players in and out, praying he can find a combination that will work.
Finally, their defence, who have looked as bamboozled as ever. Lamine Kone looks like he’s still pouting from not getting a move away, John O’Shea is a leader but not much else anymore and Papy Djilibodji trying to do something of note.
It’s a shame that Younes Kaboul is out but combined with modern attack-minded full backs and it’s easy to see why they concede so often. It’s soft in the centre, where big strikers have really flourished and the quick players are causing havoc to their lack of pace in the middle.
In all honesty, it’s been a surprise that Sunderland have got this far. It might have been a little different if Sam Allardyce was still at the helm but at the same time, it’s clear that this team needs a lot more than him to get them going.
Their chopping, swapping and praying has finally caught up with them. They will try to begin the cycle again come December but when the new man fails to lift them out of the mire, the fans will finally come to terms that the bell tolls for them this season.