The Coronavirus pandemic has halted all sports in their tracks, with the potential of English football restarting soon, let us remind ourselves of Sunderland’s season so far.
The Black Cats have had an eventful time recently, a time they would most likely want to forget. However, on the bright side, the Wearside team are in a comfortable position, in seventh, at the top end of the English Football League, League One division. They are sat just outside the playoff positions on level points (59pts) with sixth-place Peterborough United – separated only by goal difference.
Sunderland managers have come and gone like used towels. Simon Grayson, who took over from David Moyes, was shown the door in late October 2017, opening the door to Chris Coleman – who remained in place until the end of the 17/18 season. However, Coleman’s successor, Jack Ross was the latest Wearside manager to bite the bullet in October 2019.
After Coleman’s departure in May 2018, Ross – arguably – made a decent attempt to get his squad back into the Championship, after failing to survive in the league the season before.
Despite leading Wearside to Wembley twice in one season (2018/19) – the Checkatrade Trophy final & League One play-off final. The Sunderland manager was shown the door in October 2019, providing the chance for Phil Parkinson to attempt to lead the Black Cats to success.
Parkinson has had an okay run with Sunderland – going through the entire month of January undefeated, for example. Sitting just outside the playoff zone, fans should be relieved that they won’t be faced with a relegation battle, despite their reactions earlier on in the season.
Highs and Lows
However, for fans, it definitely has been a rollercoaster season for Wearside. After seven back-to-back defeats back in December 2019, the fans made their opinions known towards their team.
In light of this, Sunderland has had an okay season with 16 wins, 11 games drawn and only nine losses. The highest win coming on October 22 as they annihilated Tranmere Rovers in a 5-0 victory in the league – the highest winning goal deficit for the team across the season.
On the other hand, their losses haven’t been as poor as Tranmere. Despite the streak of losing games earlier on in the season, the most the Black Cats have lost by, this season, was three. They faced two 3-0 defeats against Peterborough (August 31) and Scunthorpe United (November 12). However, there are still eight games remaining to be played and this losing deficit could be beaten.
The whole world by now will know, or at least have some knowledge regarding the recent pandemic that is plaguing our planet. Originating in China, the new strain of coronavirus has spread across the world, hitting Europe hard and the United States has become the new ‘epicentre’ of the outbreak.
Sports across the world like Formula One, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the entire world of football has been stopped. Sunderland’s most recent game was against Bristol City, which ended up in a 2-0 defeat to the Black Cats.
The Football Association has made the tough decision to end seasons below the EFL League Two with immediate effect. With eight games remaining, Sunderland has definitely secured another season in League One as a minimum. However, it is unclear when the season will resume as we continue to battle the virus.
End of Season Prospects
As stated before, Sunderland only has eight games remaining of the regular season. On level points with Peterborough, sitting just outside the playoff zone in seventh, the Black Cats most certainly have a chance to secure a place in the playoffs. This would provide an opportunity for the squad to regain a place in the EFL Championship.
They are only eight points behind Coventry, who looks set to charge towards the League One title when the season resumes. Although not mathematically impossible, it would be a very unrealistic target for Sunderland to try and achieve the title.
The Wearside’s best opportunity to regain a place in the championship would lie in fighting through the playoff zone. However, trips to Wembley have not been kind to the north-east side – as their two previous visits have shown.
At the end of the day, this is football and anything can happen.