August saw Sunderland begin life in League One for just the second time in their history. During pre-season, many changes were made on and off the pitch. New owners saw the end of the Ellis Short regime, much to the delight of supporters. Jack Ross was named as manager and 12 new first-team players came in. Could the Black Cats get off to a good start or would the new team need time to gel? The Sunderland August Review takes a look.
Sunderland August Review
Jack Ross made many of his new signings early in the transfer window. In August just striker Charlie Wyke and midfielder Max Power were brought in. Out went Lamine Konè to Strasbourg on loan and youngsters Sam Brotherton, Elliot Embleton and Connor Shields also departed on loan deals.
Want-away pair Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong remain Sunderland players despite reported interest from other clubs. The pair have refused to return to Sunderland and thus have not been paid as a result. Neither would be welcome back on Wearside.
So Far So Good
With big changes on and off the pitch, some may have thought the Black Cats would have a difficult beginning to life in League One. However, Sunderland have started very well. Four wins and one draw during August saw them sit second in the table. A draw on September 1st extended their unbeaten run.
Many of the new signings have started well. Jack Baldwin in the heart of the defence looks a steal at £200,000. Forward Chris Maguire has made an impact, Max Power has impressed on loan so far and goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin looks a steadier pair of hands than last year’s men between the posts.
Players who have remained at the club also look ready for the challenges of League One. Lynden Gooch, Josh Maja, George Honeyman and Lee Cattermole have performed well. Chilean international Bryan Oviedo, who looked certain to leave, has not sulked like some and has played well at left-back.
Other teams will see Sunderland as their cup final and will up their game; however, for the most part, the Black Cats have adapted very well and should be challenging for promotion come the latter stages of the season.
Games So Far
Charlton (H) – W 2-1
An early Charlton penalty gave the visitors a halftime lead. Josh Maja equalised and a dramatic last-minute header from Lynden Gooch gave Jack Ross and Sunderland a winning start to the season.
Luton (A) – D 1-1
Josh Maja scored just before half-time to give Sunderland the lead. Luton came out in the second half fighting and equalised midway through the half. Both sides had chances to win but in the end, both settled for a point.
Scunthorpe (H) W 3-0
A very dominant display saw the Black Cats extend their unbeaten start to the season. All of the goals came in the first half as Scunthorpe failed time and again to cope with Sunderland’s lethal attack. Max Power, Josh Maja and Chris Maguire secured the three points.
Gillingham (A) W 4-1
Gillingham took an early lead but within a minute Sunderland were level, Chris Maguire with the equaliser. By the 20th minute the visitors, backed by a sell-out away following, were 3-1 up. Honeyman and Power with the goals. A second-half strike from Maja completed an excellent away victory.
AFC Wimbledon (A) W 2-1
A tough game saw Sunderland once again come from behind to win. The Dons took the lead during the first half as Jack Ross’s men struggled to get into the game. The second half saw a different Sunderland and two goals from a surprising source secured the points. Lee Cattermole was the hero of the day with a tap-in and an excellent volley. The victory took the Wearsiders to second in the table.
Stoke City (H) 04/09 – Checkatrade Trophy
Fleetwood Town (H) 08/09 – League One
Burton Albion (A) 15/08 – League One
Rochdale (H) 22/09 – League One
Coventry (A) 29/09 – League One