When Sunderland set the club’s lowest ever points total for a Premier League season by amassing just 15 during the 2005/2006 campaign, they lost five and drew one of their opening six games.
Furthermore after those games, then managed by Mick McCarthy, Sunderland had a goal difference of minus seven, as they sat at that foot of the table.
That record perfectly mirrors the dismal start to this season which David Moyes’ side have made, as the 53-year-old awaits a maiden league win as manager.
Sunderland short on belief and confidence
Not only has Sunderland’s results been poor under Moyes, but so too have been the majority of their performances, with the team lacking in both belief and confidence, as testified when they lost their last league game 3-2 at home against Crystal Palace after surrendering a 2-0 lead.
A septet of injuries
Whilst the result in itself represented a major disappointment for Sunderland, that was amplified by the injuries which Lee Cattermole, Adnan Januzaj and Steven Pienaar sustained during the game.
Subsequently the trio, along with Victor Anichebe, Fabio Borini, Sebastian Larsson and Vito Mannone, are set to miss their team’s home clash against West Brom, as an injury crisis has developed at Sunderland to compound their current on-field problems.
Plagued by lapses in concentration
In order to rectify those problems Moyes faces an extremely difficult task, particularly given his team’s current defensive fragility, whereby on average they have conceded two goals per league game this season despite goalkeeper Jordan Pickford performing tremendously. Ahead of the 22-year-old lapses in concentration, such as that made by Papy Djilobodji which enabled Harry Kane to score the only goal as Sunderland lost 1-0 to Tottenham, have cost Moyes’ team dearly.
A similar scenario faced McCarthy in the 2005/2006 season as the now Ipswich Town manager oversaw a disastrous Premier League campaign, for all but four weeks of which Sunderland were at the bottom of the table. With five games of the season remaining, the relegation of McCarthy’s team to the Championship was confirmed, as of their 38 league games they lost 29 and won just three.
One of those wins was a 2-0 success against their local rivals Middlesbrough, as Sunderland earned their first league victory of the season at the seventh attempt, with that being a feat which Moyes will endeavour to inspire his players to achieve at home against West Brom.
Defoe vital to Sunderland’s prospects
The last game between the two teams at the Stadium of Light ended goalless in April, as despite having eight efforts on goal, Jermain Defoe was frustrated in his best efforts to score.
Nevertheless the 35-year-old striker has scored four of Sunderland’s five league goals this season, including two clinical finishes against Crystal Palace, to become the joint ninth all-time leading scorer in the history of the Premier League alongside Teddy Sheringham with 147 goals.
Therefore in defiance of his team’s current troubles, Defoe has continued to exercise his wonderful finishing ability, to vividly portray that he will be vital to Sunderland’s prospects of recovering from their disappointing start to the season.
Januzaj’s injury a major blow
Another player who could potentially help Sunderland achieve that is the mercurially talented Januzaj, although the 21-year-old Belgian internationalist is forecast to be out of action for six weeks due to damaging ligaments in his ankle against Crystal Palace.
Given his ability to create the type of goal-scoring opportunities upon which Defoe thrives, Januzaj’s absence constitutes another problem with which Moyes must contend, as the former Everton, Preston North End and Manchester United manager aspires to lead Sunderland off the foot of the table.
Moyes faces extremely difficult task
Despite having yet to win a league game this season, Sunderland have enjoyed success in the League Cup, with them progressing to the fourth round by virtue of beating lower league opposition in the form of Shrewsbury and Queens Park Rangers.
Therefore Moyes’ team have proved themselves capable of winning games, although that is a habit which they are yet to develop in the Premier League but require to do so soon, so as to avoid suffering a similar fate to that experienced by McCarthy’s team of 2005/2006.
Whilst the former Republic of Ireland manager did not have his problems to seek that season, neither does Moyes at present.
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