Sunderland AFC 2019-20 League One Preview

Sunderland had an average attendance of 32,157 last season, that number is higher than the capacity of any other League One stadium apart from Stadium of Light. The second biggest stadium in League One this season is Stadium MK with a capacity of 30,500.

There is no doubt in saying they have the biggest fan base, budget, and best Training Facilities, Academy, Stadium in the League but that does not guarantee anything as the other 23 team fans keep pointing out that they can use only 14 players on a given day.

Start of the 2018-19 season marked a new era in Sunderland AFC history, as they became a debt-free club and were under the control of the new owner, Stewart Donald. They went into the season with a lot of optimism and under the stewardship of Jack Ross.

They also started the summer with a clean slate as most of their high earners who were straining the club finances left and Jack Ross had a chance to start building a team with his mark as there were only nine players on their books.

It felt like the club had hit rock bottom and it was only upwards from League One, and many predicted they would go up straight away to the Championship, but their last seven-game form where they won one and drawn three saw them slip out of the automatic promotion spots.

Then in the playoff final, the 94th-minute goal from Patrick Bauer which led to a 2-1 win for Charlton Athletic confirmed that they were going to play in League One for the second straight season and marked the lowest ever League finish in Sunderlands 140 Year history.

Sunderland 2019-20 Player Departures

Sunderland is in a situation where they can’t risk not going up from League One this season, parachute payments value dropped from £41.5million in 2017-18 to £30million in 2018-19 to £14.5million for 2019/20 season.

That means they had to make some tough decisions in summer, one of those was to Terminate(Mutual Consent) contract of their Club captain and a player who has been with Black cats for the last ten years Lee Cattermole, who was reportedly earning £40k-a-week.

They released the following players this summer

  • Adam Matthews,
  • Luke Molyneux,
  • Alex Storey,
  • Max Johnstone,
  • Max Stryjek and
  • Robbin Ruiter

The big-name on the list was Adam Matthews, who was also reported to be one of the highest earners at the club. Now the only players on really high wages are Aiden McGeady – £31k-a-week(Before extension) and Bryan Oviedo – £25k-a-week.

They also have sold Lamine Koné to RC Strasbourg Alsace, Reece James to Doncaster Rovers and the contract of Donald Love was terminated.

In total 11 players left the club in summer and there is a possibility of more players leaving the club. This window also marked the end of an era as the new regime got rid of the messy squad they inherited from their premier League days as Donald Love, Duncan Watmore, and George Honeyman are the only players to remain from PL Era.

Sunderland Manager

Jack Ross is the current manager of Sunderland AFC. He is the first man since Steve Bruce(11-12) to manage the Black Cats for two pre-seasons in a row.

He is in this position not because of his popularity among fans, but due to the trust Board has shown in him. There is also no doubt in saying that if they get off to a poor start, he will not be able to manage Sunderland until the end of the season.

Last season he managed to guide Club to two finals at Wembley. The first one was EFL Trophy final where they lost 5-4 on penalities to Portsmouth, and next was Playoff final where they lost to Charlton Athletic 2-1.

A minority fans who think he is not the right man claim that he has “negative tactics, awful style of play and terrible decision making” but at the end of the day football is a sport of opinions, and many fans feel he is the right man to take the club forward.

Jack Ross is a UEFA A Licence holder who prefers to play 4-2-3-1
But may also switch to 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 based on the opposition. Before joining Sunderland, he managed St Mirren and Alloa Athletic.

As Sunderland manager, he has a record of 30 wins, and 23 draws from 61 games in charge of the club.

Criticizm of Jack Ross has split the fan opinion, which side are you on? Use our comment section for healthy debate.

Sunderland 2019-20 New Signings

Letting Josh Maja go and then signing Will Grigg on a reported £4 million pounds has drawn criticism from some corners of the fanbase last season, but they say a manager needs three transfer windows to sort his team. So, let’s hope the board and the manager have learned their lesson.

There is no doubt in saying this transfer window is going to be very important in Sunderland AFC history both off the field and on the field.

Sunderland has signed the following players so far this season.

Conor McLaughlin

Conor McLaughlin is a 27-year-old Northern Irish International fullback who came through the ranks of Preston North End and spent most of his professional career with Fleetwood Town.

He played 269 professional games in his career which include 39 Championship, 137 League One, 58 League Two games.

His notable accomplishments include 34 Northern Irish caps and League Two playoff promotion with Fleetwood in the 2013-14 season.

He spent the last two seasons at Millwall and managed to make 37 appearances for them over two seasons mostly due to injury problems like ankle injury in 2017-18, quad problem in 2018-19 but even when he was fit Mahlon Romeo was preferred by Neil Harris over him.

With Adam Matthew’s departure and Luke O’Nien who played at RB last season preferring to play as CM, we can expect him to be a good option at RB.

McLaughlin is a 6-foot tall player who can play at RB, RWB, and DM position. He is a real hard worker and tries to put decent crosses into the ball.

Lee Burge

Lee Burge is a 26-year-old Goalkeeper who is a product of Coventry City Academy and went on to make 160 appearances with the senior squad in the last five years.

Burge was the No.1 choice at Coventry City for the past three years. He was the star of Coventry City’s 2017-18 squad which won promotion to League One via playoffs as he managed 17 Clean sheets in 47 League and FA Cup games.

At the start of last season, Liam O’Brien was given four starts ahead of him, but then he regained Coventry City’s No.1 spot and went on to make 40 league appearances and managed 7 Clean sheets.

Burge spent 15 years with the Sky Blues, whom he joined at the age of 11. Apart from loan to the National League side Nuneaton Borough, this will be his first time to join another club.

Jordan Willis

Jordan Willis is a 24-year-old defender who predominantly plays as a Center back but can also play at both fullback positions.

The 5’11” defender came through the ranks of Coventry Academy just like Lee Burge and was also part of their squad who won promotion to League One and won EFL Trophy in the 2016-17 season.

He made his debut at the age of 17 for the Sky Blues when they were in Championship and made three appearances in the 2011-12 season.

Including those three appearances, he made 208 appearances for the sky blues which also included 141 in League One and 37 in League Two.

He made 38 appearances scoring one goal for Coventry City in League One last season and joined Sunderland after rejecting a contract.

Jordan Willis is one of the quickest among the center backs and is also a great reader of defensive situations. He will join Tom Flanagan, Alim Ozturk and Jack Baldwin as available Center Back options for Jack Ross.

Ruben Sammut

Ruben Sammut is a 21-year-old Scottish Defensive midfield player who was part of the Chelsea youth setup since he was 8-years-old.

As a youth player, he won three consecutive FA Youth Cups from 2014 to 2016 and Two UEFA Youth League 2015, 2016 titles.

He also made 17 youth appearances for Scotland including three U-21 and four U-20 appearances.

Last season he was on loan at Scottish Championship side Falkirk FC but managed only to make 16 appearances in the first half of the season which led to Falkirk not extending his deal.

He was on trial at Sunderland and played U23 fixture against Aston Villa U23 at the end of last season as the Blackcats lost 1-0 that match. But his performance impressed Elliott Dickman which led to a contract offer from Sunderland in summer.

Sammut is a 5’9” player who is a decent passer of the ball and can play at DM as well as CM and is most likely to join the U-23 squad than the senior squad.

Michael Collins

Michael Collins is an 18-year-old defender who predominantly plays as a Center Back but can also play as Left Back. He is a 6-foot tall right-footed player and was part of the Everton U-18 setup.

He joined the club on trial and made appearances for both U-18, U-23 squads in Man City 2-1 loss(U-18) and Southampton 5-1 loss(U-23) games.

He will also most likely join Sunderland Youth setup. The slew of new youth signings are being made as most of the quality youth prospects are being poached by Premier League clubs.

Ahmed Abdelkader

Ahmed Abdelkader is a 20-year-old Algerian Goalkeeper who played for Guingamp and Cypriot side ENAD Polis Chrysochous in the past.

Abdelkader will most likely join the U-23 squad and is considered as a replacement for Max Johnstone and Max Stryjek who were released this summer.

The player was born in Brest, France and came through the ranks of Guingamp academy and spent time at ENAD Polis Chrysochous last season.

Sunderland 2019-20 Fans/Away Journey

Sunderland fans were praised by most of the opposition fans for the way they got behind their team and took thousands of supporters to away games.

The Black Cat fans were also prised for their part in history-making 85,021 attendance for EFL Trophy final alongside Portsmouth and 76,155 attendance EFL Playoff final against Charlton Athletic.

They also created an atmosphere that is not common for League One football and became one of the must-see fixtures for many away fans last season. They had an average attendance of 32,157 at Stadium of Light which also included 46,039 for Bradford game which was the third-highest attendance for a match in England on Wednesday.

Let’s see the numbers about the away trips Sunderland fans have to make this season. They are the team that has to travel the longest among all 24 teams this season. Their longest trip will be to Portsmouth while the shortest is the Doncaster trip.

Total number of miles4728
Average distance per game205.6
Longest Trip343
Shortest Trip117

The saying “football is not a set of events but a way of life” is exemplified by the Sunderland fans and we can’t wait for “Sunderland ‘Til I Die- season 2” which will show the world what we mean by our statement.

Sunderland 2019-20 Odds

Sunderland is favorite to win promotion this season according to many bookmakers. Here are the odds that are being offered.

Promotion 4/1
Relegation 28/1

Sunderland 2019-20 Fixtures/Results

You can see all the fixtures and results of Sunderland AFC by clicking here

To read more club previews click here or visit 72 in 72 section from the menu.

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