Skysports.com casts an analytical eye over Sunderland's 2009/10 season.
Last Updated: 13/05/10 1:37pm
What Went Right?
Darren Bent went very, very right. A £10m bargain - he repaid Steve Bruce with 24 Premier League goals and almost instantly became a hero on Wearside. Bruce trimmed a very bloated squad and added steel in the form of Lee Cattermole and Lorik Cana to turn a team with a soft centre into a two-man wrecking machine. Home form kept the locals happy with a run of nine games without defeat at the Stadium of Light halting a slide that threatened to drag them into an unlikely relegation battle. Oh and Craig Gordon finally started to look like a £9m goalkeeper.
What Went Wrong?
A rotten run of 14 games without a win in winter threatened to undo all the fine work of the autumn, while away form never really recovered - they were as poor as bottom club Portsmouth on their travels. That needs to change next season if all that investment is to buy a push at Europa League football. There's a massive over-reliance on Bent - the Englishman scoring around half Sunderland's goals, with the midfield failing to add their fair share. Injuries were an unavoidable problem but suspensions were a hefty price to pay for injecting some physicality.
Are They Happy?
Happy enough as long as they have a bona-fide goalscoring hero, but they will expect a season utterly free of relegation flirtation in Bruce's second campaign.
Signing of the season
Darren Bent. As already touched upon, the attacker has pretty much already repaid the £10million paid to Tottenham for his signature, almost single-handedly ensuring Sunderland's season did not go from mediocre to disaster. His 24 league goals were an outstanding return in an often struggling team.
Flop of the season
Kenwyne Jones - only because so much is expected of him. With a January move to Liverpool touted one would anticipate better than not to reach double figures in terms of goalscoring. Anton Ferdinand's form was also suspect.
Bent. Who else? Elsewhere, Lee Cattermole was tenacious enough while goalkeeper Craig Gordon emerged as a real hero during the second half of the campaign.
Jordan Henderson. The youngster is highly-regarded on Wearside. Still a teenager, the midfielder impressed this campaign as he made 33 appearances. One to keep an eye on, certainly.
Their home record. They lost just three times at the Stadium of Light all season, while victories over Arsenal and Liverpool in the North East brought great joy to the home faithful.
That winless run. Sunderland's search for a victory lasted 14 long league games and during that time they sank towards the relegation zone. Just two away wins mustered all season makes for horrible reading too.