Jan Kirchhoff, Adam Matthews and Adam Johnson: The good, the bad and the ugly of Sunderland’s season

Jermain Defoe celebrates his goal at Norwich
Jermain Defoe celebrates his goal at Norwich
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Sunderland AFC had to endure a series of challenging hurdles on and off the pitch in 2015-16.

A season-long battle against relegation, the sacking and conviction of Adam Johnson and the resignation of former chief executive Margaret Byrne to name a few.

Sunderland fans voted Jan Kirchhoff as the best January signing

Sunderland fans voted Jan Kirchhoff as the best January signing

In the end Sam Allardyce and his squad had fans smiling after another successful battle against the drop.

In the final instalment of our Big Sunderland AFC Survey, we asked supporters about their highs and lows of the season just gone.

Sunderland’s best signing – as crowned by 45 per cent of our readers – was Jan Kirchhoff.

The versatile German arrived for a modest fee of £750,000 from Bayern Munich and despite a debut to forget, he quickly established himself.

Adam Johnson pictured at Bradford Crown Court during his trial proceedings. Picture: Press Association.

Adam Johnson pictured at Bradford Crown Court during his trial proceedings. Picture: Press Association.

When it came to the player of the year, fans were adamant.

Jermain Defoe bagged 15 league goals to help steer the club to survival, with Defoe polling 66 per cent of votes.

Goal of the season went to Wahbi Khazri, who scored a stunning volley in the win over Chelsea at the Stadium of Light.

Second half goals from Fabio Borini and Defoe helped secure a crucial victory on the club’s road to safety and the stunning comeback was credited with the best display of the season.

The Blues game featured heavily in our end of season review, with readers voting the comeback against Chelsea the highlight of the entire campaign.

Premier League status was sealed against Everton but the drama of the Chelsea win will stand long in the memory.

There was plenty of ‘bad’ in 2015-16, with Sunderland never climbing higher than 17th.

A season-long battle against the drop was always going to be on the cards after Sunderland failed to win any of their opening eight league games.

Dick Advocaat resigned in the wake of that run of form, with Allardyce arriving to help slowly steer the club to safety.

Readers voted Adam Matthews as the club’s worst signing of the season, with the former Celtic right-back failing to get a run in the side.

Matthews was loaned out to Championship side Bristol City where he managed to regain his form but fans weren’t impressed with his efforts for Sunderland.

He polled 42 per cent of the votes ahead of Ola Toivonen (23.2 per cent) and Dame N’Doye (19.2 per cent).

Fans were split over who was to blame for the club’s shortcomings last season, with last summer’s lack of investment coming out on top with 20 per cent of votes.

The summer signings that did arrive and the efforts of the players in the opening stages of the campaign also polled highly with frustrated readers.

And finally, fans were clear about their lowlight of the season.

Johnson, sacked by Sunderland, was sentenced to six years in jail for child sex offences involving an underage fan.

Almost half of fans voted that as their lowlight in our end-of-season survey ahead of the amount of time spent in the relegation zone.