Sunderland’s hopes of survival in the Championship are fading fast. The Black Cats were comfortably beaten 3-0 at home by Villa last night to continue their miserable season. The appointment of former Wales boss Chris Coleman has not changed their fortunes and currently Sunderland stare down the barrel of Championship relegation.
Tonight, Tottenham Hotspur take on Juventus in the Champions League. One man who will be expected to star yet again will be Mousa Dembele. He tore Juventus apart in the first-leg and has done similar against some of the best midfielders in the Premier League all season.
Sunderland fans will be aghast at the fact, just three years ago, their side tried to sign the Belgian.
Back in the summer of 2015 Sunderland had just survived another relegation battle. Dick Advocaat was manager and the club wanted to stay well away from the bottom of the table.
Dembele therefore emerged as a transfer target and one that looked likely. He was struggling for form and fitness at Tottenham Hotspur at the time and Sunderland felt they could get hold of the player. It was reported by the Mirror that Sunderland were keen on the player, who had started just 10 games in the previous season, after signing his Spurs team-mate Younes Kaboul. The Daily Star went on to suggest Tottenham wanted a fee of £15 million for the player which, in hindsight, looks a bargain.
But Sunderland never got their man. They survived relegation by the skin of their teeth again that season, and were eventually relegated the season after.
Now Sunderland are being thrashed at home by Villa and looking at a place in the third-tier of English football next season. Meanwhile Dembele has more than rewarded Mauricio Pochettino’s faith in him. He is set to go head-to-head with Juventus in the Champions League yet again this evening.
Not many analogies sum up the reduction in ambition and performance at Sunderland more than their pursuit of Dembele less than three years ago.
Sunderland have gone from being linked with currently one of the most in-form midfielders in Europe, to picking over the debris of another home mauling. All of this in in less than three seasons.
Sunderland fans deserve better. They deserve what Tottenham get from Dembele and co week-in and week-out. Hopefully, with relegation looking likely, they can press the reset button. In three years time, perhaps Sunderland will be amazed at their rise from such a lowly position.