Tears, triumphs and teetering on the brink: Six highs and six lows from a turbulent year for Sunderland AFC

Sunderland players celebrate the 3-0 derby day win
Sunderland players celebrate the 3-0 derby day win
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Can 2016 be a year to remember for Sunderland AFC fans?

The reason I ask is because 2015 was certainly one to forget for the club's long-suffering supporters.

Tears from Dick Advocaat at Arsenal

Tears from Dick Advocaat at Arsenal

The Black Cats spent the second half of the 2014-15 campaign battling the drop and have carried that form into the first half of 2015-16.

Three managers in the last calendar year and far too many defeats.

A 3-1 win over Aston Villa was the perfect way to start 2016 but Sunderland's position remains perilous.

There have been some reasons to smile though.

Gus Poyet, former Sunderland boss

Gus Poyet, former Sunderland boss

We take a look back at six highs and six lows from the past 12-months:

Low: The club's annual relegation battle.

Sunderland have been in the top flight for nine consecutive years but they have a fight on their hands to make it into double figures.

Last season saw Sunderland slip from a relatively comfortable mid-table position at the turn of the year into another relegation scrap.

Sam Allardyce

Sam Allardyce

And the 2015-16 campaign has been a miserable one too. In 2015 there has been a grand total of seven wins in the Premier League and just five at home.

High: Another Great Escape to savour?

It is a strange one, celebrating surviving, but for the third year on the trot Sunderland narrowly avoided relegation.

When Gus Poyet was axed after one win in 12, Sunderland looked to be slipping into the Championship.

Sunderland fans celebrate the 3-0 win over Newcastle United

Sunderland fans celebrate the 3-0 win over Newcastle United

But the arrival of Dick Advocaat sparked a revival and Sunderland secured their top flight status in the penultimate match of the season.

A hard-fought point at Arsenal - a display packed with defensive determination and organisation - saw them safe.

Low: Managerial comings and goings.

Having three managers in the space of 12-months is a sign the year has not gone to plan.

The Black Cats started the year with Gus Poyet in charge but he was sacked in March, replaced by Dick Advocaat initially until the end of last season before agreeing to stay.

But it wasn't long until he'd had enough, resigning in October, with Sam Allardyce taking charge.

Duncan Watmore has broken into the first team this season

Duncan Watmore has broken into the first team this season

If Sunderland can make it through 2016 with the same manager, it will be seen as a major sign of progress.

High: Emotional Advocaat's tears.

One of the highlight's of Advocaat's short spell was his tearful display of emotion at the Emirates.

After watching his Sunderland side battle their way to the point they needed to survive, Advocaat couldn't help but shed a tear.

He became an instant fans favourite and supporters rejoiced when he performed a major U-turn to stay.

Sadly, it did't work out.

Low: Sunderland should have started afresh.

While Advocaat's first few months in charge saw Sunderland survive the drop, the second half of his spell in charge was a hard slog.

Question marks over the player's fitness and the club's summer recruits led to a poor start to 2015-16 and one from which they haven't recovered.

On reflection, Advocaat's initial nine-game spell should have been the end, with Sunderland starting afresh in the summer.

High: The arrival of Big Sam.

With Advocaat departed, Sunderland needed a firm, experienced and steady hand at the wheel.

And they got one in Big Sam.

Never before relegated from the Premier League, Allardyce seemed to be the perfect fit.

Back-to-back wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke City raised hopes but four defeats and victories for their rivals has seen Sunderland cut adrift.

Low: Poor signings cost Sunderland.

The summer of 2015 was a key period for Sunderland.

Having secured their top flight status they needed to invest big.

The arrivals of Fabio Borini (Advocaat's back-up plan) and Jeremain Lens (failed to deliver his early promise) were the big summer signings.

But it was never going to be enough.

Yann M'Vila (loan) and Younes Kaboul have impressed but the others, including Ola Toivonen and Adam Matthews, have disappointed.

High: Emergence of Duncan Watmore and Jordan Pickford.

Watmore wasn't given the opportunity by Advocaat but he has thrived under Allardyce.

While he may not be ready for a regular first team slot, he is certainly a future star for Sunderland.

Jordan Pickford will be next after starring on loan at Preston North End.

Low: Embarrassing FA Cup exit.

The FA Cup exit to Bradford City was a real low point of the 2014-15 campaign.

In February, Poyet's Sunderland side were beaten 2-0 by League One Bradford on an awful pitch.

Jon Stead continued his run of scoring in every round to help put the Bantams into the quarter-finals.

High: Form of the Under-21s and Sunderland Ladies team

A major Sunderland success story has been the form of the Under-21 side and the Sunderland Ladies team.

The U21s - under the guidance of Andy Welsh - are flying high, top of their league by 10-points.

A remarkable achievement, with Robbie Stockdale playing a key role too until his promotion to first team coach.

Tommy Robson, Tom Beadling and Lynden Gooch are ones to watch.

Credit also, to Sunderland Ladies and Beth Mead who enjoyed a stunning debut season taking the FAWSL 1 by storm.

Low: Lee Congerton's reign ends.

Whether you see this as a highlight or a lowlight, it didn't reflect well on Sunderland - the sporting director role hasn't been a success.

Congerton's time effectively come to an end last week - two months after he decided to leave the Stadium of Light.

He handed in his notice at the same time as Advocaat's resignation after the sporting director had grown frustrated with the limitations of his role.

Congerton is now on gardening leave while Allardyce leads on player recruitment.

High: Six-in-a-row!

Let's end on a high.

The highlight of 2015 was - without doubt - the record breaking sixth consecutive derby day win over Newcastle United.

Allardyce became the fourth Sunderland manager in a row to record his first win in charge in his second game, against Newcastle.

And Sunderland fans are still rejoicing the historic 3-0 win!

Lee Congerton

Lee Congerton

Sunderland players celebrate

Sunderland players celebrate