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Season Preview: Sunderland

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Season Preview: Sunderland
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Paolo Di Canio has purchased a new Sunderland team, but now he has to get the players to gel. What can …

Summer Ins & Outs
IN: Duncan Watmore (Altrincham, undisclosed), Modibo Diakité (Lazio, free), El-Hadji Ba (Le Havre, free), Valentin Roberge (Maritomo, free), Cabral (Basle, free), David Moberg Karlsson (IFK Gothenburg, £1.5m), Vito Mannone (undisclosed, Arsenal), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar, £6m), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus, £8.6m), Ondrej Celustka (Trabzonspor, loan).
OUT: Titus Bramble, Anthony Callaghan, Wade Joyce, Adam Reed, Ben Wilson (released), Simon Mignolet (£9m, Liverpool), Ahmed Elmohamady (£2m, Hull), Matthew Kilgallon (free, Blackburn), Danny Graham (season-long loan, Hull), Ryan Noble (free, Burnley), Alfred N'Diaye (loan, Eskisehirspor), James McClean (£2m, Wigan).

 

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What To Expect From 2013/14:
Rarely has a club done more business than Sunderland have done in a single summer. Manager Paolo Di Canio has essentially purchased a new team, with no fewer than 10 new signings joining him at the Stadium of Light, while also getting rid of some of the so-called "trouble makers" from within the existing squad.

 

Di Canio has improved his defensive options and added steel in midfield while bringing in some much needed creativity in the form of Emanuele Giaccherini. Jozy Altidore is also a vast improvement over Danny Graham in attack, but they will miss Simon Mignolet as the erratic Vito Mannone and long-time back-up Keiren Westwood fight it out for the number one jersey. It is understood the manager is still looking to add to his squad, with a playmaking midfielder, a left-back and winger all on the wish-list, but he will have to sell before he can buy and Lee Cattermole, Phil Bardsley and Stephane Sessegnon have all been linked to moves away from the club.

 

This new multi-national squad has been assembled in an attempt to challenge the top 10 this season but it could take a bit of time for the players to settle in England and gel together. However, it should be an exciting campaign for the fans, with a more attacking brand of football on show, and they shouldn't have any fears about relegation - despite an opening day defeat to Fulham (in which they dominated the majority of the match).

 

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Player To Watch:
Jozy Altidore - The 23-year-old striker signed a four-year deal with the Black Cats last month, for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £8million, and with a fee of that size comes the demand for goals to offer some support to Steven Fletcher. The powerful American forward is more than capable; he found it extremely tough when on loan at Hull City in 2010 but has been steadily been improving over the past few years and proved his quality by scoring 31 goals in 41 appearances for Alkmaar last season. He should do well, although I'll be waiting a few weeks before adding him to my fantasy team.


Prediction:
You'd have to think Sunderland will improve on last year's dismal season with the quality they've added in attack, namely Giaccherini and Altidore. It will take time for everything to bed-in, but I can't see the club falling in to another relegation battle. I'll go with a midtable finish, just outside the top 10.

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