The transfer window
First of all, when I wrote that the table situation wasn’t going to affect us – I had no idea. There was no Premier League for the upcoming season and no one knows why. I still tried to approach it like any other season, but it’s hard to motivate yourself when you have two scheduled matches going into the season.
Anyway, we managed to strengthen the squad with two major signings, and we got them fairly cheap as well. Zinchenko adds experience and real quality to the squad while Charlie Setford looks the real deal and is a big upgrade on Patterson.
Cole Palmer and Nico Serrano were both signed on a free transfer, and Serrano especially looks like a star in the making. At 21 it may be a little late for him to fulfil all of his potential, but it’s worth a shot on a free transfer.
With that exciting schedule, it was nothing more to do than wait for the games to come. We did great in the Carabao Cup and had some really strong results on the way to the final. Turning it around against Leeds was the best achievement after trailing with two goals. Pipi scored a screamer in the first half, and an own goal from Struijk secured extra time. After 120 minutes and 10 penalties, Struijk missed his and we reached the final. A great way to max out a strange season like this. We were so close to winning it after a disallowed goal from Tyrese Campbell after 6 minutes. After that, the game was a close one and it was going into extra time when Luke Shaw tried his luck from distance in the 92nd minute. With his right foot. The ball went in and the game was over, so close yet so far away. I’ll have to add that this was Luke Shaw’s first and only goal since I took over at Sunderland almost 5 years ago.
The FA cup didn’t go as well as the Carabao Cup and it’s hard to keep everyone sharp when you play so rarely. We’re happy with the number of goals we scored and Tyrese Campbell scored for fun in the first three games. Three easy wins and everything looked great when we got Norwich in the Quarter Final.
The game started in the worst possible way when Cantwell scored in the 3rd minute and they scored again after 13 minutes. Going into the second half we needed some magic to turn it around and we got it from Dan Neil and Tyrese Campbell inside two minutes. 2-2 after 53 minutes and from there on out we went for it. In the 89th minute, everyone thought we’ve won the game when Thorstvedt scored, but again it were disallowed for an offside. 7 minutes later we lost the ball in the midfield and Norwich could counterattack. Suddenly Cantwell found himself alone with Setford and placed it controlled in the corner. Game over. Season over. What a harsh way to end the season.
With the season over in March, everyone went on a long holiday and when we returned we found ourselves back in the Championship. I have no idea how this can happen, I have never seen it before and I doubt I will see something like it again. However, if it is to happen to a team Sunderland seems like the viable option. I guess if you have too much success with Sunderland the game will drag you back down.
With all this happening and going back down to the Championship and half the squad wanting to leave I think it’s a good point to call it a day. Giving a lot of thought I don’t find the motivation to start from “scratch” again. It was great managing Sunderland and turning it around – too bad it had to end as it did.
Thanks for reading.