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After taking five points from their last four Premier League outings, Sunderland have lifted themselves out of the relegation zone – they are now level on points with 18th placed Norwich City with a better goal difference.
Can Sam Allardyce keep the Black Cats in the Premier League come the end of the season?
At the end of 2015, Sunderland looked doomed. The Wearsiders lost five league games on the bounce, and were starting to be cut adrift at the bottom. However, after a much-improved 2016 so far, which has seen them win three and draw three league games, the Black Cats have once again given themselves a great chance of survival.
So what is it with Sunderland, relegation battles and leaving it so late? In the last few campaigns, they seem to be sure favourites for the drop, only to go on an incredible end-of-season run to keep themselves in England’s top flight.
Allardyce to be Sunderland’s savior?
In the 2013-14 season, it was Gus Poyet who saved them from relegation, Dick Advocaat last year, now is it going to be Sam Allardyce who performs the miracle this season?
Although he may not have had the credit he deserved at Upton Park, Big Sam done a great job at West Ham United. Not only did the Worcestershire-born manager take the east London club up via the Championship play-offs at the first time of asking, the former Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers boss also kept the Hammers in the Premier League for a couple of seasons. Of course, in the summer, West Ham and Allardyce parting company was no doubt best for all parties.
Allardyce is one of those managers that, although he may not do things pretty, he gets the job done astutely and his way. If Sunderland want to stay in the top flight – which obviously they do – then what better man to do the job than Sam Allardyce? Big Sam has never been relegated from the Premier League, and he will be looking for that record to continue come May.
Of course, keeping the Stadium of Light outfit in the Premier League this season, would arguably be his greatest managerial achievement. Like I said, the Black Cats looked dead and buried when they lost 1-0 to Liverpool on December 30.
In fact, the defeat to the Reds put them seven points adrift of safety.
Upswing in fortunes
Nevertheless, a massive upswing in fortunes, which includes beating Manchester United three weeks ago at the Stadium of Light, has put Sunderland in a good position to survive.
Next up for the North East club is a trip to Southampton on Saturday. The Saints, who recently went six league games unbeaten – winning five of those – have lost their last two Premier League matches on the bounce.
Sunderland will no doubt be looking to build on their point with Crystal Palace and bring a positive result back to the Stadium of Light.
There’s no doubt about it, the Sunderland hierarchy made a shrewd decision bringing in the 61-year-old back in October.
Big Sam was brought in for one reason – keeping the club in the Premier League – and the way things are going at present, there’s every chance he will succeed.
Written by Gareth Hinton
Follow Gareth on Twitter @Galccfc
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