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Dick Advocaat must show he was right to take Sunderland job

ESPN FC's Mark Donaldson and Paul Mariner break down Tim Sherwood's new-look squad, Leicester City's new managerial look and Newcastle United's potential defensive struggles.
Dick Advocaat masterminded Sunderland's survival last term and decided to stay on as manager after initially saying he would retire.

Dick Advocaat made a U-turn and decided to take Sunderland's job offer after he kept them up as interim last season. Here's a look at what to expect from Sunderland as we approach the new campaign.

Preview

Advocaat approaches his first full season as a Premier League boss aiming for a solid mid-table berth to confound gloomy assumptions that Sunderland are once again bottom six certainties.

Biggest concern

Sunderland have led a charmed life over the past three seasons. Tips-of-the-fingers escapes...

Jermain Defoe and Sunderland have something to prove in North America

Jermain Defoe and Jozy Altidore face their former clubs as Sunderland take on Toronto FC in a preseason friendly this week.

Sunderland's third and final chance to avoid defeat on their brief North American tour presents the fascinating prospect of a battle for supremacy between Jozy Altidore and Jermain Defoe when Dick Advocaat's side play Toronto FC on Wednesday.

The two strikers moved between the clubs in an exchange deal in January and each has generally performed better after making the move.

Defoe was hardly prolific in Sunderland's grim second half of the season but his four goals from 17 starts were important,...

Lombaerts deal off but Sunderland still in shape with Jeremain Lens' arrival

Jeremain Lens is expected to clinch a move to Sunderland but Dick Advocaat is likely to miss out on Nicolas Lombaerts.

Sunderland's 1-0 defeat against Sacramento Republic in the first of their three preseason friendlies in North America on Tuesday night was the lesser of two disappointments for manager Dick Advocaat.

The collapse of the club's efforts to sign a key summer target, Belgian centre-back Nicolas Lombaerts, is a significant blow. It was originally claimed he had failed a medical but he sought to clear up the rumours by saying he turned down a possible switch to Wearside. Sunderland remain hopeful of clinching...

Dick Advocaat minces no words in quest to strengthen Sunderland

Dick Advocaat oversees Sunderland's preseason programme.

Just in case anyone still believed in Dick Advocaat's passable impression of a cuddly uncle, his unsentimental disposal of Santiago Vergini should prove enlightening. Perhaps some of us were fooled by the Dutchman's tears when Sunderland secured the heroic draw at Arsenal that ensured another season of Premier league football, but it does not get much blunter than "I'm sorry for Santi, but he has to go and find another club."

With those words to the local press, Advocaat clearly signalled that...

Lee Cattermole divides opinion but Sunderland ace deserves his dues

Lee Cattermole has agreed a long extension to his Sunderland contract, keeping at the club until 2020.

Sunderland supporters are not accustomed to good news and even their annual battle against relegation only ever sets them up for another year of misery.

Managers come and go, money is spent and games are lost. It never seems to get better. But this week, something wonderful happened -- Lee Cattermole signed a new five-year contract with the club.

There was a point when it seemed certain that he would leave. In 2013, stripped of his No.6 shirt and ostracised by former manager Paolo Di Canio, he...

Coates signing and Cattermole extension a boost to Sunderland

Sunderland have announced that Lee Cattermole has agreed a new contract at the club, keeping him there until 2021.

Sunderland's softly-softly start to the close season has burst into life with the permanent signing of Sebastian Coates after his season on loan from Liverpool and an extended new contact for Lee Cattermole.

Supporters are naturally hoping for more exciting news than the continued presence of a couple of players who ended last season at the club.

It is a good start, all the same, to Dick Advocaat's preparations for a new season in which the principal objective must be to avoid yet another relegation...