He may now be the manager of Crystal Palace, but Sam Allardyce is successfully masterminding another Sunderland survival story.
When Sam Allardyce accepted the job as Sunderland Manager last season, few suspected that he would be able to keep his side in the Premier League. Here was a team that had consistently spent poorly, appointed people who were out of their depth at every level of the club and ran up huge debts. And yet somehow, they had manage to scrape survival in each of the last four seasons.
It was to be his greatest challenge, and with the England managerial position up for grabs the following summer, it would put him in pole position to make a case to the Football Association. When Sunderland beat Everton in May, Wearside was spellbound, the impossible had been achieved.
However, the secret to success in football is consistency, and at the start of the season it seemed impossible that Big Sam could help to keep Sunderland in the Premier League for another season.
The main reason for that is that he was no longer associated with the club in any capacity, in fact he was no longer in club football, taking up the England managers job for just over two months.
However, on Saturday he defied expectations yet again. He selected a Crystal Palace side who gave time and space to a Sunderland midfield that have not been able to dominate a game all season. He also allowed significant room in front of the back four, a place in which Jermaine Defoe has since built a small delightful holiday home. That old Big Sam magic may have once again kickstarted our season.
It seemed all too easy for Sunderland, with even Adnan Januzaj cutting swathes through a slapdash Palace back line, despite having the demeanour of a haughty suburban housewife and the body of an eight year old girl with a wasting disease.
Three goals in six minutes before half time, including one choice long-range effort from the cartoonish Gabon midfielder Didier Ndong, was more than enough for Sunderland to breeze past a Crystal Palace side who were as fragile as their name suggests.
Sunderland certainly rode their luck, Lamine Kone’s opener just inside of ten minutes could quite easily have been pulled back for a foul on Hennessy just seconds before, and Christian Benteke came close a couple of times in the second half were it not for the acrobatic efforts of Vito Mannone, but there was only going to be one winner.
With Palace seemingly unable to put pressure on Sunderland’s leaky back four, it allowed Jack Rodwell to put in an unusually impressive performance in the middle of the park.
David Moyes’ team really haven’t impressed on their travels this season, they’re only win so far this campaign coming against Bournemouth last November. Their away form against the bottom sides has been problematic, conceding nine and scoring three, rooting them to the foot of the table.
Add to this an injury list as long as your broken arm and a seeming inability to buy anyone who didn’t play for Everton when Tony Blair was in power, and it has spelled disaster for the lads this year.
However in recent weeks there has been some green shoots of recovery. From somewhere over the last couple of games Sunderland have found a bit of courage and mental fortitude which if they can keep for the remainder of the season, may put them back in contention for survival.
Can Sunderland survive the drop? Will Big Sam save Crystal Palace? Leave us a comment and share this article on social media!