Sunderland: Are there three worse teams than the Black Cats?

Hull City are dejected after Saturday's mauling at Bournemouth

Hull City are dejected after Saturday's mauling at Bournemouth

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“Two points is a dismal start, but about par for Sunderland in recent years.

“Even now it’s looking as though the best we can possibly hope for is somehow finding three teams to be above come May.”

There are no shortage of candidates, which is heart-warming news for David Moyes and Sunderland’s long-suffering fans.


Not the words of this reporter, but someone of far greater footballing intelligence than me, and a man who bleeds red and white – Gary Rowell.

And there is a lot of blood at the moment.

The Black Cats are stuck at the bottom, not an uncommon theme as our columnist and Sunderland legend points out.

Are there three teams David Moyes’s side can haul themselves above in the next 30 games?

In fact, there are no shortage of candidates, which is heart-warming news for David Moyes and Sunderland’s long-suffering fans.

Here they are, in order of danger.

Hull City: After a dream start to the season, a win over defending champions, Leicester, the toothless Tigers have now lost four in a row.

In Hull’s defence, they had not been able to recruit following their promotion, given the takeover issues, while they have had the not-so-small matter of having to face Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea to date.

Saturday’s defeat at Bournemouth will have frightened the now-permanant boss, Mike Phelan, though is there such a thing as permanent boss in the top flight, Wenger and Dyche aside?

Burnley: Sean Dyche’s team have won twice since their promotion – two more than Sunderland – and pride themselves on their resilience, but they could not contain a slick Southampton on Sunday.

Their defence has struggled on a number of occasions and it has only been down to the brilliance of Tom Heaton that they have not suffered a worse time.

No keeper has made more saves in the top flight – not even Jordan Pickford – how long can the Clarets go on relying on their stopper?

Burnley have been up and gone down again, but remained true to their philosophy (and their boss) and they are likely to do the same again.

Middlesbrough: Early-season optimism is evaporating. On Sunday, they had the chance to move up to 11th only to lose at home to Watford.

Last season, Boro built their success from the back, but this time around they are not keeping clean sheets, bar a bore draw at West Brom.

They are also failing to find the net, scoring just four in the last six, with big summer signing Alvaro Negredo only scoring once since the opening day of the season.

If Boro continue on this path, don’t be shocked to see chairman Steve Gibson act – he’s invested heavily and will not want to go straight back down.

Swansea City: Poor Bob Bradley has taken a bit of a panning since he came in and that was even before he took his seat in the dug-out, all because the Swans did not give the job to Ryan Giggs.

The Welsh club stuttered their way through last season and have started the current campaign in a similar vein.

They have also lost talisman Ashley Williams to Everton, a serious set-back.

Bradley’s pedigree is a good one, but has taken on a tough task given they have lost six times, the joint worst record, along with, of course, Sunderland.

West Ham: It’s a surprise to see the Hammers slumming it near the bottom. Or is it?

The move from the atmospheric Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium has been an issue – Slaven Bilic’s side are, effectively playing every game away from home.

You would suggest, like the club I am coming to next, they have enough quality to pull themselves away from trouble .

That is providing the players perform – Dimitri Payet, who was superb last season and at Euro 2016, has not been himself this time around though he was not alone.

But a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace suggested things may be turning around. We may learn more on Saturday.

Stoke City: Mark Hughes looks as though he is getting the Potters back on track after a poor start.

Having seen Stoke see off Sunderland they look well equipped for better days ahead, given they have Ryan Shawcross commanding their defence, an experienced midfield unit, with skill out wide in Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri.

Of course, one swallow does not make a summer, but draws against West Brom and Man United, as well as Saturday’s win, make them outside shots for the drop.