With 10 games to go before its curtains on the Premier League season, it might be early to start a pity party. Especially when the club in question are Sunderland who usually cause a surprise or two in the final stages of the League to somehow survive relegation. However, their luck isn’t going to last forever and many feel this might be the season when they finally go down after hanging on for the last three seasons.
Sunderland come alive in the last few months but with seven points separating them from safety, the mood around Stadium of Light is pretty sombre. David Moyes has done a decent job of staying in contention but a bad squad coupled with the injuries to key players in the first half of the season meant it was going to be an uphill task.
The Black Cats need to plan ahead for the Championship. It’s not going to be easy and the examples of Norwich City and Aston Villa prove that. Adding and keeping the right players will be key to a swift return to the Premier League if they do go down. Here are three players of the current squad that they should do everything to keep.
Sure, there are other talented wingers, but Watmore, before his injury, showed that he has the quality to play in the Premier League, which means he could be a big asset in the Championship. The drop in level could actually help him develop more as a player. The Championship is a slog and there will be a lot of physical battles, which could help chisel the lad.
Granted, the team has had a woeful run with Rodwell in the playing XI, but it isn’t really his fault. You can see a pattern here – it’s a British core. Sunderland have a midfield which can survive the long Championship run as they have some steel in that midfield. However, they need to remain fit to do that. Rodwell, who was quite a decent player and earned a move to Manchester City, has been off-colour for quite some time but could be a good performer in the lower division.
There have been examples of players who perform well in the lower leagues and Rodwell could get his career back on track away from all the negative media attention he is getting in the top flight after his dramatic decline.
It’s going to be incredibly hard to convince Defoe to stay but if they can keep hold of him, they could be guaranteed at least 15 to 20 goals. Again, he’ll complement the British core which could be really important. He does have a contract till 2019 but admitted he could contemplate leaving the club if they go down simply because he wants to be on the plane to Russia next year.
There are other players who will offer strength to the team. Players like Jordan Pickford and Lamine Kone have a high chance of moving and could give the club good revenue in terms of transfer fees to reinvest, so the board need to carefully pick whom they should try and keep.