Sunderland rounded off 2016 in typical fashion with a 4-1 battering by Burnley at Turf Moor on New Year’s Eve.

The demoralising defeat, followed by their 2-2 draw against Liverpool just two days later, summed up the violently fluctuating year that the North East side had.

Something else it showed however is that the red and white army do have fight within them, and can, against popular belief, play football – which they showed numerous times throughout the past 12 months.

So how exactly did the previous calendar year pan-out for Sunderland?

Well the main moments came as no surprise to any recent loyal Stadium of Light attendee.

The Black Cats managed to secure their Premier League status from the brink of impossibility once again, it was another unbeaten year against bitter rivals Newcastle United, and there was a change of management in the Wearsiders dugout – nothing really out of turn.

So was there anything untoward to be witnessed in the red and white part of the North East?

Well, at the start of the year then boss Sam Allardyce managed to secure the signatures of Lamine Kone, Wahbi Khazri and Jan Kirchhoff who all became crucial in the North East side’s successful survival.

In fact it was Kone’s brace against Everton in May which confirmed Sunderland would take part in England’s top-flight for their 10th successive campaign, and condemned rivals Newcastle to relegation.

But that victory was only the conclusion of a long successful run of form the former England manager managed to build, which included claiming the scalps of Manchester United, Chelsea and importantly Norwich City.

After their 1-0 defeat to Manchester City on February 2, the Black Cats put a streak together that saw them defeated only twice in 14 games – something a championship winning side would be proud of.

But then came the summer of transition on Wearside.

Allardyce left for his international call-up and former Manchester United and Everton manager David Moyes was instated at the helm of the Stadium of Light.

The appointment was well received by the Sunderland faithful and there was a great amount of anticipation on Wearside, but that was short lived.

The new man’s first transfer window dealings reeked of panic with the 53-year-old splashing out on either cast-offs, unknowns or has-beens, and comments he made to the media after such a short time at the helm left the North East fans unimpressed.

The feeling of discontent amongst the Black Cats fans was carried until November 5 when Moyes’ men managed to pick up a rare away win at Bournemouth, and added to the previous two point haul from their opening 10 Premier League games.

This was followed up by a comprehensive home victory over Hull City, and it was at this point that the Scotsman finally began to regain some of the patience and trust of the red and white army.

Since that point, the North East side have continued to build the Stadium of Light as a fortress by seeing off defending champions Leicester City and Watford without real trouble, and managed to restrain runaway league leaders Chelsea to just one goal.

But away from home, heavy defeats to Swansea City and Burnley recently have shown there is still a mountain of work to do for Moyes if he wants to avoid being relegated from the Premier League in 2017, with the Scot needing to instil a similar mentality to that Allardyce managed to create.

Overall Sunderland amassed 41 points during their 38 games of 2016 – a haulage that would usually keep a side from relegation.

But with 15 of those secured since the start of this campaign, the Wearsiders will have to emulate their form of earlier in the year if they want to make it 11 seasons in a row in England’s top league.


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