Does the Championship beckon for the Tyne-Wear derby?
The Tyne-Wear derby is known to be very heated and one of the fiercest rivalries in football. However, in the previous six derbies, Sunderland have been triumphant over neighbours Newcastle. Despite this, it looks like the fixture could be a Championship game rather than a Premier League one next year.
Both teams have had disappointing starts to the 2015/16 season and have only managed to win once in the ten games that they’ve played so far. It was so bad that Dick Advocaat left Sunderland after eight games and Sam Allardyce stepped into the hotseat.
Sunderland lost their first two games of the season, conceding goals within half an hour in both. Even though they also breached the opposition defence in both games, they struggled to recover once they went behind.
On the other hand, Newcastle took the lead in their games against Chelsea and Manchester City but then proceeded to capitulate and draw and lose the matches respectively.
Most pundits agreed that in the game at the Etihad, Newcastle deserved to win based on their first half performance. However, Manchester City improved dramatically in the second half and thanks largely to Sergio Aguero they left the St James’ Park faithful scratching their heads. Their game against Chelsea was even worse, because they surrendered a 2-0 lead with 11 minutes to go.
After 10 games of the 2015/16 season, Sunderland and Newcastle are 18th and 19th respectively and based on current performances they both deserve to stay there.
Last season, Newcastle finished 15th, only managing to avoid relegation on the final day. John Carver taking over from Alan Pardew quickly turned from a dream for the Geordie into a nightmare for the fans and had they been relegated, it would have been nearly impossible to find a person who thought they didn’t deserve it.
Newcastle were ninth upon Pardew’s departure, but once he left they embarked on a run of eight consecutive defeats from March onwards which was their worst run in Premier League history and the worst by any club last season. They say be careful what you wish for and the Newcastle fans who’d called for the coach’s dismissal realised how true that was.
Sunderland on the other hand completed another one of those all too familiar “Great Escapes”. This time it was Dick Advocaat who saved the team and ensured they retained their Premier Leagues status for at least another year. Towards the end of the season, the Black Cats picked themselves up and went on a five-game unbeaten run. They ended up celebrating survival at Arsenal with one match to spare and reduced Advocaat to tears in the process.
One could imagine that this is the reason Advocaat stayed for another season, he was so caught up in the moment that he got carried away and agreed to remain in charge. Sunderland should have known his heart wasn’t really in it when he declined the job for a second year and only continued once they had charmed him into it.
Since 2009, Sunderland have had eight different managers. This shows a lack of stability at the club and could be affecting the players. Furthermore, it is a team that many managers would avoid because they know they will become immersed in a relegation battle. In contrast, Pardew provided stability for the Newcastle team and before last season Newcastle finished in very respectable league positions.
There are teams in the Championship such as Brighton, Derby, Middlesbrough and Reading who are desperate to earn promotion to the Premier League, and then you have teams like Sunderland and Newcastle who just seem to take it for granted that they’ll be in the top tier again when next season comes around.
They need to get relegated, which should serve as a wakeup call, re-evaluate and then come back and show people that they deserve to be in the Premier League. At this current moment in time, I’m not convinced by the Premier League credentials of either team.
So far this season, Sunderland have played their best match against their North East rivals, but the reality is that they don’t put that same passion and determination into winning any of their other matches and therein lies the reason why, in my opinion, they will finally be relegated this year.
As well as bringing in Steve McClaren to manage the team, Newcastle invested heavily in the summer and spent £50 million on players such as Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
However this is not enough. Newcastle have not been the same since Alan Pardew left and at this rate, they may struggle for several months to climb up to the middle of the Premier League table. Relegation beckons and it is difficult to see how they will avoid it for a second successive season.
Featured image taken by Jonathan Sosa.
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