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Sunderland Season Preview: The Black Cats come purring

The Boot Room

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What a turbulent season it was for the Sunderland last term, culminating in a remarkable escape from relegation under the stewardship of Gus Poyet following the sacking of the exuberant Paolo Di Canio after just five games.

Despite their well documented league struggle, Poyet’s men defied all odds by miraculously avoiding the drop after defeating Manchester City and Chelsea most notably in their own back yards. Not only that but they also reached the Capital One Cup final at Wembley, ultimately falling short against a formidable Manchester City Side.

But Gus Poyet looks to have settled a once sinking ship as he prepares his troops for their 2014/15 Barclays Premier League opener away to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

The question remains, has Poyet’s side got enough fire power to steer clear of the drop this year? Connor Wickham almost single handedly saved Sunderland from relegation last season and the Black Cats will look to secure his future with them amid interest from West Ham United this Summer.

The former Ipswich star bagged crucial goals against Manchester City, Chelsea and Cardiff at the back end of last season and he’ll surely be the man to see them safe from such trouble this season.

Along with a fully fit Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore Sunderland should have enough to avoid the drop zone but it remains to be seen if Sunderland can tie down a deal to sign Fabio Borini on a permanent deal from Liverpool. Borini was equally as instrumental in helping Sunderland seal Premier League football for the coming campaign.

The Black Cats have made several signings this Summer including goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, Jordi Gomez and Will Buckley most recently but the marquee signing thus far has to be the acquisition of Man City outcast Jack Rodwell. The midfielder hasn’t played regular football since his big money move from Everton in 2012 but he can certainly help Poyet achieve greater things this term if he fits straight in, but that may prove to be difficult due to his sever lack of first team football.

John O’Shea and Wes Brown will provide leadership and experience as they will form a solid foundation for Sunderland at the back as will new boys Patrick van Aanholt and Billy Jones.

Perhaps a mid-table finish awaits the Black Cats this season as they’ll no doubt look to improve on what was a very disappointing year last season.

Key player: Adam Johnson

One to watch out for: Will Buckley

Expected finish:13th


Can Sunderland finish mid-table, or will they be facing another relegation dog-fight? Have your say in the comment section below, or on Twitter @TBRFootball.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

West Ham United

Marlon Santos joining West Ham would be ideal solution to defensive woes

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Photo: Getty Images.

There will be a summer of change at West Ham United this summer and with James Collins leaving the club there will be a spot opening up in defence. Reports from Spain indicate that the man to fill it could be Barcelona youngster Marlon Santos.

The Brazilian joined the Spanish giants permanently last summer after impressing for their B team and earning a first team debut in 2016/17 and spent pre-season with Ernesto Valverde’s first team before being sent out on loan.

Now, reliable Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo say that West Ham are interested in taking the defender on loan next season after he has impressed in France, playing for OGC Nice, making 27 appearances during his loan spell.

(Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old has also been linked with Leicester but with West Ham believed to be leading the chase, it would be a wise move from Manuel Pellegrini to seal a deal as soon as possible.

Strong in the tackle, Santos would also bring some much needed pace to the West Ham defence. Replacing the likes of Collins and Jose Fonte who departed in January, the arrival of a fleet-footed defender would be a welcome turnaround at the London Stadium.

It may also suggest a change in style, with the former Fluminense youth product known for his ability on the ball, often looking to dribble out from the back to get his team transitioning from defence to attack.

Pellegrini is clearly putting the building blocks in place to build a side in his own image, and bringing in Marlon Santos would be a cheap and sensible addition to fix a major problem area.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Malcom would add another dimension to Tottenham’s attack

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Photo: Getty Images.

After an impressive 2017/18 campaign, Tottenham are already beginning to plan for 2018/19 and are keen to make a statement in their first season in a new look White Hart Lane. One way they may do so is with the addition of Girondins Bordeaux forward Malcom.

Sky Bet currently list Tottenham at 7/2 to sign the Brazilian, just behind favourites Manchester United in the running at 3/1, and such an acquisition would bring an exciting new element to Mauricio Pochettino‘s attacking set-up.

Predominantly playing on the right wing, Malcom may offer more width than many of the options within the Tottenham squad, but much like Heung-Min Son and Erik Lamela, he likes to dribble on the ball and cut inside, offering a direct threat rather than looking to cross into others.

The 21-year-old scored 12 goals in 35 Ligue Un games for Bordeaux this season and whilst not exactly prolific, would help to add goals to the Lilywhites’ midfield and reduce the reliance on Harry Kane.

(Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

He also has some similarities to the likes of Christian Eriksen as a superb set piece taker who likes to shoot from distance, helping to add another dimension as Tottenham look to break down more defensive sides who sit deep in hope of frustrating them.

With huge potential to develop even further, Malcom may not come cheaply but would represent an interesting project for Pochettino to get even more out of him. Whilst he bares many similarities to Erik Lamela when he arrived in north London, if he can avoid injury he could go on to become the player Spurs had hoped to see Lamela become.

His pace and threat would add a much needed option into the Spurs attack, complimenting the playmakers like Eriksen, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura and supporting the goalgetter Harry Kane. Strength in depth is key in Tottenham’s quest for silverware and Malcom would be a step in the right direction to achieving it.

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Newcastle United

Fulham promotion opens up £15m exit for Aleksandar Mitrovic

The Newcastle United star is likely to move away from the club this summer.

Mathew Coull

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Fulham won promotion to the Premier League yesterday with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final. The Cottagers scored in the first-half through Tom Cairney to rightfully take their place back in the top-flight of English football.

It was a tremendous performance and in the summer Fulham will be looking to bring in some new faces to help them stay in the top-flight. One of those faces, will not be necessarily new. Aleksandar Mitrovic has been brilliant for Fulham since joining on loan in January.

The Serbian striker has scored 12 goals since his arrival at Craven Cottage and will no doubt be wanted permanently at the club.

Is this good news for Newcastle United?

There has been plenty of talk regarding the Serbian’s exit from St James’ Park in the winter. Many fans on Tyneside are wondering whether the club should have kept him at Newcastle, considering his goal record in London.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Watford at St. James Park on November 25, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

However, it is clear that Rafa Benitez is not a fan of the player and the Spaniard certainly made things work without him.

The best thing for Newcastle right now is to sell him and ensure they bring in enough money to cover the cost of his original signing.

Fulham represent their best option to do so. Newcastle want about £15 million for the player, according to the London Evening Standard, which is the fee they paid for the Serbian in 2015.

Fulham will no doubt want to bring him to the club this summer, but would not have been able to bring him to the club had they failed to secure promotion to the Premier League.

The Cottagers can now afford the player and Mitrovic’s price-tag is unlikely to be a problem with the bonus they will receive for heading into the top-flight. Newcastle must be pleased that Fulham earned promotion, as it will allow them the best opportunity to move Mitrovic on without a major loss.

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