Sunderland have been tipped for another relegation battle by many in the media in the run up to the first set of matches this weekend. They have been involved at the bottom for so many years now, that many expect their luck to run out at some point. They have started the last four seasons with different managers and this year it will be Dick Advocaat who leads the side after deciding to stay. The Dutchman was pivotal in keeping the side in the division, but he must stay for an entire campaign. The last time that Sunderland had a manager in charge for a whole season was in 2009/10, which was Steve Bruce.
They have had to make signings to strengthen the squad this summer, as the Premier League continues to get stronger. Yann M’Vila and Leroy Fer are two midfield targets that could be coming in the door before the season begins this weekend and they could be key if completed. They would add balance to the midfield and allow Advocaat to play three in the middle of the park. The battling qualities of M’Vila and Lee Cattermole would give Sunderland a strong shield in front of the back four. Meanwhile the attacking quality of Fer, coupled with the pace of Jermain Defoe and Jeremain Lens will cause other sides in the division problems.
Yann M’Vila is a player who has been linked with English clubs for a number of years. He is an effective defensive midfielder, but his attitude has always prevented him from reaching the very top of the game. He was once a key member of the France international side and tipped with Champions League clubs. His stock has fallen after disappointing spells with Rubin Kazan and Inter Milan, but a move to Sunderland could launch his career back in the right direction. He is still only 25 and could be a smart signing. Advocaat will have to find the right way to motivate him or the move could have an alternative effect.
The other midfielder being heavily linked to the North East is Leroy Fer after the club failed to tempt Moussa Dembele to the club from Spurs. Fer is a similar player and will be familiar to the top flight after playing for Nowich and QPR. The issue with Fer is that he has suffered back to back relegations and while his ability is undoubted, his battling qualities are. If Sunderland are looking to play with three central midfielders, then Fer could be ideal alongside Cattermole and M’Vila as he would provide the energy, creativity and goal threat. Last season, he managed to score six goals and grab two assists. Moreover, he has emerged as one of the most talented players in the QPR side. If they had more players like Fer, they would have stayed up.
Sunderland and their supporters will be hoping that they clinch the signings of these two players as they have a level of quality that Sunderland haven’t targeted in recent years. Both have been internationals for big nations and have a lot of experience at a high level. They will be superb additions and if Advocaat can get them playing in the same system as Cattermole, Sunderland could have one of the best midfields in the bottom half.