Analysis: Six days that sealed Sunderland's Premier League fate

Sunderland's 1-0 loss today has ultimately cost them their Premier League status
Sunderland's 1-0 loss today has ultimately cost them their Premier League status
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Sunderland's relegation to the Championship has been long in the making.

The club has narrowly avoided the drop for the last four seasons but their luck finally ran out this time round.

The writing has been on the wall since last August when David Moyes admitted he thought the club would once again be battling the drop.

Then came a Premier League record 10-game winless streak to kick start the 2016-17 campaign.

We take a look at six days that helped seal Sunderland's fate.

Monday, June 27 2016:

Humiliated England are dumped out of the Euros by Iceland 2-1.

As a nation mourned, Sunderland fans became increasingly concerned once Roy Hodgson resigned.

It became clear, quite quickly that the then-Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce was among the favourites for the job.

How could Big Sam turn down the opportunity if the Football Association came calling?

It was a dream of his and having just kept Sunderland up against all odds, he knew it would again be a struggle this season without serious investment.

Nobody could blame him for leaving.

But the saga cast a shadow over Sunderland's pre-season planning with David Moyes not appointed until July 23 - around three weeks before the new season started.

Sunday, August 22 2016:

Sunderland, in David Moyes' first league game in charge, produced a spirited performance away at Manchester City.

A late Paddy McNair own goal sunk the Black Cats to again leave them without a win on the opening day of a new season. Nothing new there.

Newly-promoted Middlesbrough at home in mid-August presented the perfect opportunity for Sunderland to get going.

Instead, they were beaten 2-1 and post-match Moyes admitted Sunderland was facing another relegation battle - just two games into the season.

When asked whether observers may feel Sunderland will be battling against relegation again, Moyes said: "They'd probably be right, because that's the position the club has been in for the last four or five years.

""Why would that suddenly change? I think it will be (a relegation battle).

"I don't think you can hide from the fact that it will be the case."

Needless to say the post-match comments went down like a lead balloon and many feel it set the tone for the rest of the campaign.

Wednesday, August 31 2016:

Summer deadline day and Sunderland fail to land the extra firepower needed up front to support Jermain Defoe.

Victor Anichebe arrived on a free a couple of days later and proved to be a threat when he did play - but injuries curtailed his impact.

Midfielder Didier Ndong arrived for a club record fee but another striker was needed and Sunderland failed to land one.

And they have been made to pay the price. They are the second-lowest scorers.

Goals win games. Defoe has scored 14 this season but even his have dried up and he hasn't scored since the 4-0 win over Crystal.

Crucially, Sunderland - restricted by huge debt and a high wage bill close to the financial fair play ceiling - also failed to land a striker in the January window.

Tuesday, December 13 2016:

Ahead of the January transfer window, chief executive Martin Bain warned Sunderland fans that the club will have "very limited funds" available to improve the squad.

Sunderland, £140million in debt and close to the Premier League’s financial fair play (FFP) cap for wages,was limited.

At that stage, Sunderland were bottom with a clear need for recruits, fresh blood, more quality and competition for places.

Moyes had to contend with a crippling injury list plus Didier Ndong, Lamine Kone and Wahbi Khazri away on Africa Cup of Nation duty.

Sunderland sold Patrick van Aanholt but only signed free agent Joleon Lescott followed by former Everton duo Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson for a combined £7.5million.

It was never going to be enough.

Tuesday, January 24 2017:

Sunderland have been hampered by injury problems all season.

Moyes has come under intense pressure from fans over his team selection, tactics and style of play.

But one mitigating factor the under-fire manager can point to - along with the financial restrictions on his transfer dealings - is the injury problems.

Sunderland's mini-revival in November and December was sparked by the form of attacking trio Jermain Defoe, Victor Anichebe and Duncan Watmore.

First Watmore was ruled out for the rest of the season in December before Sunderland were dealt another crushing blow in January, when it was confirmed Anichebe would miss the best part of three months.

A huge blow. The Black Cats have only won once since, the 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace.

Saturday, March 18 2017:

Supporter unrest towards the manager began to unravel following the goalless draw with Burnley. Moyes' team selection raising eyebrows.

Ndong, who had found his feet in the Premier League, was surprisingly benched.

It left the midfield looking very one-paced and Moyes' comments post-match went down badly.

He said: "I decided I wanted Jack and Gibbo together. I thought the game might suit more Britishness in the middle of the pitch.

"I just felt I would go with that in the middle and the two boys up front."

To make it worse Ndong was still on the bench for the trip to Watford in the next game.

Sunderland ended up with a single point from those two games - a big chance to kick-start the survival bid missed - with a significant section of the fan base losing faith in Moyes.