Newcastle & Sunderland going to be left behind?
These are early days in the Premier League season, so early that the summer transfer window is still open and we don’t even know for sure the final make-up of any of the 20 teams. But it’s not too early to predict with confidence that Newcastle and Sunderland are in for another bumpy ride.
Both North-East clubs became involved in the relegation scrap last May, in the end occupying the two places immediately above the three who went down.
And nothing we have seen so far will have given their passionate fans any degree of comfort that things will be much different this time around.
You only need to look at Coral’s ‘Sack Race’ market to appreciate the lack of comfort and security off the pitch at both St James’ Park and the Stadium of Light – Newcastle boss Alan Pardew, is 7/2 favourite to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job, while Sunderland’s volatile Paulo di Canio is next on the list at 6/1.
Geordie fans would have expected their team to be outclassed in their opening fixture at Manchester City and they weren’t disappointed. But they will have been dismayed at the display at home to West Ham last Saturday, not so much in the 0-0 result, but that their team didn’t manage one shot on target throughout the 90 minutes.
The Johan Cabaye scenario is clearly unhelpful, but Newcastle need Joe Kinnear to start doing the job he was principally brought in to do – buy some decent players while the transfer window remains open and in particular somebody to score goals – if the Magpies aren’t going to be battling in the basement even sooner than they were last season.
In comparison, di Canio is still enjoying his honeymoon period at Sunderland, although you can soon go off people if they don’t start delivering on their promise. A 1-0 home defeat to Fulham was hardly the best start to the campaign, but a point at upwardly mobile Southampton last weekend was much more encouraging.
Di Canio is clearly not everybody’s cappuccino up on Wearside and the jury is still out on many of the players he has assembled from all over Europe over the summer. This is a partnership that could go either way, but early impressions are that Sunderland will be again be spending the season in the bottom half of the Premiership.
As I said, these are early days and the immediate futures of these two famous clubs might look a good deal rosier by this time next week, particularly for Newcastle if they splash some cash on the sort of players who can things turn around.
But the way things stand right now is I think fairly reflected by Coral’s odds for relegation – Sunderland are 100/30 and Newcastle 5/1.
Written by Jon Freeman