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Sunderland Season Guide

Nickname: The Black Cats
Founded: 1879
Ground: Stadium of Light, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear SR5 1SU
Capacity: 49,000
Ticket Office: 0845 671 1973
Ticket Prices: £8 to £30
Club Sponsor: Reg Vardy
Club Colours:
Home - Red and white striped shirts, black shorts and black socks
Away - All dark blue with red and white trim

Top Links
Soccernet's Sunderland page | Full squad and player profiles | Fixture list
Soccernet's Sunderland Correspondent
Official Sunderland Website
Fan Site - Ready To Go
Fanzine site - A Love Supreme
Fan site - One Sunderland

Last Season - Back in the big time Position: 1st in Championship

Sunderland finally banished the dark days of 2002/03 to the bowels of history by reclaiming their place in the Premiership. The last time Sunderland graced the top flight they tumbled out with the worst ever record - including a run of 15 consecutive defeats. Mick McCarthy was brought in to turn around the fortunes of a club left in tatters by the tenures of Peter Reid and the 'dream duo' of Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill. After a transitional season they hit top gear last term following the completion of the rebuilding job. After a slow start to the season it looked as though Wigan and Ipswich would occupy the top two places in the division. But Sunderland came strong in the second half of the campaign to coast to the title by seven points.

Transfers - In and Out
Coming In:
Jon Stead (Blackburn) - £1.5million
Kelvin Davis (Ipswich) - £1.25million
Andy Gray (Sheffield United) - £750,000
Daryl Murphy (Waterford) - Undisclosed
Christian Bassila (Strasbourg) - Free
Tommy Miller (Ipswich) - Free
Joe Murphy (West Brom) - Free
Nyron Nosworthy (Gillingham) - Free
Alan Stubbs (Everton) - Free
Martin Woods (Leeds United) - Free
Justin Hoyte (Arsenal) - Loan
Anthony Le Tallec (Liverpool) - Loan

  • On The Move - All the transfers
  • Getting Out:
    Sean Thornton (Doncaster) - £175,000
    Michael Bridges (Bristol City) - Free
    Brian Deane (Perth Glory) - Free
    Michael Ingham (Wrexham) - Free
    Mark Lynch (Hull City) - Free
    Thomas Myhre (Fredrikstad) - Free
    Ritchie Ryan (Scunthorpe) - Free
    Marcus Stewart (Bristol City) - Free
    Jeff Whitley (Cardiff City) - Free
    Neill Collins (Hartlepool) - Loan
    Mart Poom (Arsenal) - Loan
    Ryan Bell - Released
    Lewis Dodds - Released
    Chris Kingsberry - Released

    First Choice XI

    GK Kelvin Davis; RB Stephen Wright, CB Alan Stubbs, CB Gary Breen, LB George McCartney; RM Tommy Miller, CM Carl Robinson, CM Dean Whitehead, LM Julio Arca; ST Jon Stead, ST Stephen Elliott.

    The Gaffer - Mick McCarthy

    Despite being at Sunderland for over two years, Mick McCarthy is still haunted by the traumatic exit from his job with the Republic of Ireland. Despite having a good World Cup in Korea/Japan, Ireland's campaign was dogged by the public spat between the coach and Roy Keane - resulting in the midfielder being sent home. A poor start to the subsequent Euro 2004 qualifying programme spelt the end of his tenure. He has worked wonders at Sunderland since arriving towards the end of 2002/03, having to essentially sell a squad of Premiership misfits and put together a new team. He is finally starting to the silence the critics who continued to doubt his abilities as a coach following the disappointing end to his time with Ireland. McCarthy will look to build his Premiership survival attempt on a sound defensive footing.

    Player to Watch - Julio Arca

    Arca is one of the few players at Sunderland to survive from the last days of the Premiership, but he remains a cult figure among the fans and a driving forced behind their Championship-winning season last season. Fast and energetic, Arca's forceful runs down the left flank became a trademark of the successful campaign. Sunderland missed the Argentine winger badly when they went down - he was out injured for much of the season - but he pledged his future to the Wearside outfit, determined to get them back into the top flight. He will be vital to Sunderland's chances - if he stays fit they will be in with a shout of staying up.

    Young Gun - Stephen Elliott

    Elliott bagged 15 goals from 29 Championship starts last season - effectively his first as a professional after moving from Manchester City's reserves last summer. Those performances earned him a full cap with the Republic of Ireland earlier this summer. The striker, second to Sheffield Wednesday's Glenn Whelan in the Irish Young Player of the Year awards, has proved to be a bargain purchase at £125,000. With a season under his belt he should now push on among the Premiership elite. He possesses great skill and finishing ability. He originally shot to prominence as one of the stars of the World Under-20 championships in Dubai of December 2003.

    From the terraces

    I think that this season, our sole aim is avoiding relegation. Over the course of the summer, we've managed to get rid of some players, but in the process we've slightly weakened the squad, with our attack being a prime example: 17-goal Marcus Stewart replaced by two-goal Jon Stead.

    A lot of pressure will be put on Stead this season, and Stephen Elliott, as we look to score goals, which haven't exactly been flowing in pre-season. Anything above 18th this season will be a major success for us.

    By Ian Hamilton, of website One Sunderland.

    On the face of things, our ranking as "relegation favourites" is justified, because it's not as if we've strengthened our squad.

    Thomas Myhre and Marcus Stewart left on free transfers, while our top-scorer Stewart (17 goals last season) looks set to be replaced up front by Jon Stead, who scored a massive, err, two goals for Blackburn last season.

    Our pre-season form has left a lot to be desired, but we're all hoping that, like the Aussie cricket team, we're just playing dead before springing into life when it counts. In the Premiership.

    By Paul Forrest, from fanzine site A Love Supreme.

  • Have your say on the Sunderland Message Board

    Best - Staying up Worst - Straight back down

    It's going to be a tough old season for all three of the promoted clubs, with all three looking rather threadbare up front. Sunderland released their top scorer of last season, Marcus Stewart, while Stephen Elliott may need time to adjust to life in the top flight, and there must be doubts about Jon Stead's pedigree after his form in 2004/05. Every Sunderland fan will be looking to 17th as a major achievement and a step towards the days when the Black Cats enjoyed consecutive finishes in the top half of the table.

  • Any thoughts? Email Dale Johnson.