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Sunderland: Getting the Black Cats Purring Again

Started on 18 February 2019 by joshleedsfan
Latest Reply on 23 February 2019 by mgriffin2012

About the story

Some of you may know me for my stories with Leeds United (some having more lasting power than others). I wanted to try something different with a club I've never managed before. As a fan of a club who- once upon a time- were in a similar position to Sunderland, they are currently in a position I can relate to. After years of establishing themselves in the Premier League, Sunderland have fallen very quickly, and now find themselves with a rebuilding task in League One.

Saves like these tend to be the ones I enjoy the most, the rebuilding jobs. My immediate challenge will be to get Sunderland back out of League One. In the medium term, the challenge will be to return them to the Premier League and in the long term, the goal will be to establish the club far beyond being relegation scrappers.

The story will take the form of monthly updates, mainly in the interests of being able to get on with the save, rather than dedicating the majority my time to writing long, narrative-driven stories. As much as I enjoy reading the latter, the former is probably better suited to my style of writing.

About the club

As I have previously mentioned, and as I'm sure many will be aware, Sunderland have (seemingly) hit rock bottom. They have suffered consecutive relegations from the Premier League, through the Championship and into League One. Barring a Portsmouth-esque full-scale implosion, it would appear that the only way is up for the Black Cats.

Many a Sunderland fan will consider the Premier League their natural habitat, having mostly looked too good for anything else in the 21st century. It wasn't always this way though. The Black Cats were mostly a yo-yo club between the late 50s and late 90s, typically rotating 5/6 year stints in the old First and Second Divisions (with the exception of a year in the Third Division). The club's only major trophy post-war came in a famous FA Cup win in 1973 against overwhelming favourites, Don Revie's Leeds United.

As it stands, 'the big three' from the North East are spread across the top 3 divisions, with Newcastle in the Premier League, Middlesbrough in the Championship and Sunderland in League One. It is a state of affairs that Sunderland fans will be desperate to see corrected as they seek a return to dominance of their two main rivals on Tyneside and Teesside.

There is still a lot of Championship talent at the club; the likes of Duncan Watmore, Lee Cattermole, George Honeyman and Josh Maja could play key roles in getting Sunderland straight back into the Championship at the first attempt.

The squad will have to have the depth to withstand a 46-game League One season, interrupted by the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup and- with the club playing in the third tier- the Checkatrade Trophy. Strength in depth must also account for potential international call-ups, as there is no international break below the Championship, unless the club have enough players called up to warrant the match being postponed.

Can the Wearsiders exorcise the demons that have plagued the club for the last 2/3 years? I guess this is where we will find out...

Townend in shock appointment at Sunderland

Sunderland have stunned bookies, fans and pundits alike, with the appointment of Josh Townend as their new manager. The 33-year-old steps into the role after just two years in coaching.

Townend's career was cut short at the age of 30, when an ACL injury led to him giving up the last of his playing days in favour of a coaching career. He took up coaching as soon as his recovery was complete and has spent the last two years excelling in a role with the Nottingham Forest youth setup.

Townend made his first senior appearance for Bradford City in the early stages of the 2002-03. After a 5-year spell with the Bantams, Townend signed for West Yorkshire rivals, Huddersfield Town in the summer of 2007. Another lengthy spell would follow with the Terriers, as Townend played a part in the promotion winning side of 2012. An impressive season in the Championship saw Townend snapped up by Southampton in the summer of 2013. Despite generally playing well for the Saints, Townend fell out of favour with manager Ronald Koeman, and signed for Nottingham Forest the following season on a loan deal. With 3 games to go until the end of the 2014-15 season, Townend tore his ACL, prompting him to retire from playing.

Townend was permitted by Forest to continue his development as a coach at their training ground, where earlier this year, he earned his UEFA A Licence. A spell in the academy has since been followed by a more senior stint in the club's development squad.

As for Sunderland, this is particularly unchartered territory. At the club's lowest point, they have now appointed the youngest manager in the league in Townend. Some would argue that they have tried literally everything else, so this has to be worth a go. Meanwhile, others may be concerned that this is a risky managerial appointment to be making with the club so in need of a turnaround.

As the season unfolds, Sunderland fans will come to discover whether this partnership is doomed from the start, or a match made in heaven.

NB: Updates will be written in the first person, however major developments- such as this one- will be covered as news articles
Nice to see you back. I've been expecting someone to start a Sunderland story... good luck with it.
2019-02-19 15:42#255002 ScottT : Nice to see you back. I've been expecting someone to start a Sunderland story... good luck with it.

Cheers mate. Surprised to have not seen any so far, definitely one to be cracking on with!
Goodluck! Looking forward to see your progress.

Playing with Sunderland myself. Middle 3th season now.

Pre-Season Review 2018


Note: There have been no departures, therefore all transfers listed are incoming


Darlington 0-3 Sunderland

Josh Maja (12)
Marco Matias (53)
Jack Diamond (90)

Grimsby Town 0-1 Sunderland

Chris Maguire (pen 22)

Macclesfield Town 0-5 Sunderland

Lynden Gooch (15,42)
Josh Maja (24, 51)
David Fitzpatrick (45+2)
Chris Maguire (50)

Sunderland 0-1 Middlesbrough

Ashley Fletcher (76)

Sunderland 1-0 Red Bull Salzburg

Chris Maguire (23)

Kettering Town 0-5 Sunderland

Glen Loovens (20)
Chris Maguire (29, 41, 87)
Tyler Blackett (42)



It's been a very pleasing summer for me. We've bolstered areas that needed it and brought some real quality that should be more than capable of getting us out of this league at the first attempt (hopefully out the top end this time). Results have been pleasing, and we've been the better side in every game. The Middlesbrough was disappointing, but I wasn't expecting much against a side that will be expecting to challenge at the top end of the Championship this year. Chris Maguire has been impressive and selection should give me headaches throughout the season.
This is one of the saves I considered this year, will be following to see how you do, good luck!
The Black Cats have the potential to be a huge club in the North East, time for that revival to really kick-start

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