In preparing for the 2013-14 Premier League season Sunderland has gone out and bought the most players so far this summer with nine players transferred in. In addition they have sold or released thirteen players.
This summer has been all about Paulo di Canio asserting his control over the team and making sure that everybody knows the he is the one in charge. It remains to be seen how this will work out. He did enough in 2012-13 to save them from relegation, but he is a generally abrasive figure and hopefully this attitude doesn’t backfire on him.
The two biggest signings for Sunderland have been striker Jozy Altidore, the leading goal scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie last season, and Emanuele Giaccherini, an Italian international midfielder. Both of these players should bring some excellent attacking options for Sunderland and they can continue to hope that Connor Wickham is able to live up to his hype, though I probably wouldn’t count on it. Di Canio may be able to help this, but there is also the possibility that he makes it worse. You just never know what will help these players.
What Sunderland really needs to improve on is there defense. While they didn’t do so terrible last year, scoring goals was as much a problem, they have now lost their star goal keeper with Simon Mignolet being sold to Liverpool. They have not replaced his quality and instead have Vito Mannone and Kieren Westwood.
At the back they will need to rely on the veteran defenders Wes Brown and John O’Shea to go along with Phil Bardsley, Carolos Cuellar, and new signing Mobido Diakite. Recent reports are also saying that Phil Bardsley will miss the start of the season with an injury.
My prediction for Sunderland is that they will finish in the bottom half of the table. If they players are able to respond to Di Canio then they should remain safely away from relegation. If they are not able to take to his in-your-face attitude then they will get sucked in and could easily get sent down.