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...