Everything You Need to Know About Sunderland Ahead of the 2022-23 Championship Season

    Everything You Need to Know About Sunderland Ahead of the 2022-23 Championship Season
    02/08/22 1010

    Sunderland AFC are back in the Championship following four grueling seasons in League One. Have the Black Cats got what it takes to push for Premier League football once again?

    Let’s not forget that Sunderland enjoyed ten consecutive top-flight campaigns between 2007/08 and 2016/17. As you can see from the statistics below, the Mackems have enjoyed plenty of success over the years.

    • Founded: 1879
    • Nickname: The Black Cats
    • Stadium: Stadium of Light (49,000)
    • Owner: Kyril Louis-Dreyfus
    • Manager: Alex Neil
    • First Division Titles: 6
    • FA Cup Wins: 2

     

    Sunderland dominated English football across the 1890s and 1900s, winning four First Division in 12 seasons between 1891/91 and 1901/02. They added to their top-flight title collection in 1912/13 and 1935/36.

    The Black Cats have reached four FA Cup finals, too, triumphing in 1936/37 and 1972/73. Their most recent silverware came in 2020/21, when they secured the EFL Trophy.

    How Sunderland Returned to the Championship

    Last season, Sunderland finished fifth in League One – six points outside the automatic promotion places. After beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 in the play-off semi-finals, they claimed a 2-0 victory over Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley.

    Alex Neil’s men lost just ten of their 46 regular-season games last term, picking up 24 wins and 12 draws in the process. They were the third-highest scorers in the division, netting 79 goals (1.7 goals per game).

    Striker Ross Stewart finished second in the League One scoring charts, bagging 24 goals. Meanwhile, goalkeepers Anthony Patterson (45.5%) and Ron-Thorben Hoffman (34.8%) posted eye-catching shutout rates.

    Why Have the Black Cats Struggled for So Long?

    Sunderland can count themselves unfortunate to have spent four years in League One. The Black Cats lost the play-off final in 2018/19 before reaching the play-off semi-finals in 2020/21.

    Due to a succession of shortcomings, Sunderland have gone through numerous managers in recent times. Since their relegation from the Premier League in 2016/17, they have hired six permanent managers.

    • Simon Grayson (June 2017 – October 2017)
    • Chris Coleman (November 2017 – April 2018)
    • Jack Ross (May 2018 – October 2019)
    • Phil Parkinson (October 2019 – November 2020)
    • Lee Johnson (December 2020 – January 2022)
    • Alex Neil (February 2022 – Present)

     

    Simon Grayson, Chris Coleman, Jack Ross, Phil Parkinson and Lee Johnson all tried – and failed – to get Sunderland back to the Championship before Alex Neil finally succeeded.

    Neil won the Scottish Premiership play-offs with Hamilton Academical in 2014 before winning the Championship play-offs with Norwich City the following year. So, he knows what it takes to get to the Premier League.

    Key Players to Keep an Eye On

    Numerous players starred throughout Sunderland’s promotion-winning campaign. Below is a list of the club’s top scorers across all competitions in 2021/22.

    • Ross Stewart – 26 goals/5 assists
    • Nathan Broadhead – 13 goals/0 assists
    • Elliot Embleton – 9 goals/8 assists
    • Aiden O’Brien - 6 goals/3 assists
    • Alex Pritchard – 4 goals/14 assists
    • Dan Neil – 4 goals/8 assists

     

    As we already know, Ross Stewart is Sunderland’s leading goal-getter. Alex Pritchard is the assist king, having bagged 14 assists in all competitions last term.

    There is no denying that Sunderland belong at the top end of the English football pyramid. The six-time top-flight champions have been away from the Premier League for too long, so they will be desperate to return in the not-too-distant future.