A Look Back At 09/10
The 2009/2010 season summed up the mentality of Sunderland AFC. We started well, beating some of the best teams in English football but our inconsistency came back to haunt us yet again.
Niall Quinn seemed to have fixed the 'magic carpet` after a shaky end to last season with Ricky Sbragia at the helm. Steve Bruce was brought in to help steady the ship and he made wholesale changes in the summer. Bruce`s ability to sell average players at a decent price got everyone at Sunderland excited for the new season. There was confidence, optimism and belief in the Sunderland fans once again.
We made some fantastic signings, including stars Darren Bent, Lorik Cana and John Mensah. We thought this would be our year and we were hopeful that the top 10 finish we crave was in our sights. The season started well with a game away to Bolton Wanderers. Darren Bent`s back post header was enough to seal a 1-0 victory for the lads. We couldn`t ask for a better start.
The next ten games saw us accumulate 16 points, with a draw at Old Trafford against the champions, which could easily have been a win, if it wasn`t for an Anton Ferdinand own goal late in the game. We then went onto beat Liverpool with relative ease. Sunderland fans will never forget the Liverpool game for one reason; the infamous beach ball goal.
We then travelled to St Andrews to take on Birmingham. After beating Liverpool the previous game, the fans went down in numbers hoping that we put in a good performance. However, the game didn`t go as planned and we were beaten 2-1. After accumulating only one more point in October the optimism that was seen at the start of the season disappeared and relegation was well and truly in our mindsets.
November started with a 2-0 defeat against Tottenham at White Heart Lane. We then went on to prove that on our day we were able to beat anyone by recording a 1-0 victory against Arsenal. What was round the corner I don`t think anyone associated with the club could have seen it. Injuries and suspensions started setting in. We were extremely low on confidence and this saw us go 15 games without a victory in the Premier League.
Our first game in March saw us beat Bolton Wanderers 4-0 at the Stadium of Light. This was the much needed win, as going 15 games without a victory certainly took its toll on the fans. We gathered 5 more points in March which seemed to get many fans in an upbeat mood.
April saw us beat Tottenham, Burnley and Hull City to cement our place in the Premier League for another season. We could all relax and enjoy the sell out game at the Stadium of Light against Manchester United. However we saw our side lose 1-0 to a Nani goal. We then travelled to Wolves knowing if results went our way, and we managed to get a victory we could have finished 10th in the Premier League. However what started off as a lively game went wrong and we went onto record a 2-1 defeat.
Finishing 13th in the table is a decent achievement considering how long we went without a victory. Our mentality needs to change, something which Bruce and his team is working on. We have a very good spine to the squad, but more quality is needed in wide areas to enable us to win games. Defensive lapses at the latter stages of games came back to haunt us as we conceded too many sloppy goals.
I believe the biggest improvement this season was our home form. After only losing 3 games at the Stadium of Light, it is once again a fortress. Having such good home form needs to be backed up by a decent away form; unfortunately this was lacking this season.
Overall, id rate our season as 8/10. Relegation was avoided with relative ease and with a few quality signings this summe, we have an excellent chance of finishing in the top 10 of the Premier League.