Cats Eye View: Sunderland benefit from Allardyce’s instant impact, while Newcastle flounder under McClaren

Sebastian Coates outjumps Stoke's Jonathan Walters
Sebastian Coates outjumps Stoke's Jonathan Walters
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Sam Allardyce has had a bigger impact in just seven weeks at Sunderland, than Steve McClaren has managed in nearly six months at Newcastle.

Since taking over from Dick Advocaat – after the Dutchman decided he wasn’t up to the task of keeping Sunderland up – Allardyce has bagged nine points from a possible 18.

Those three wins from six games has seen the Black Cats climb out of the bottom three for the first time this season.

It means Allardyce has already managed to secure more league wins than Newcastle – just two for the Toon.

Sunderland fans, though, won’t be getting too carried away despite an amazing week which has seen victories over Crystal Palace and Stoke City.

With a daunting December against Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City away and Liverpool at home, the likelihood is Sunderland will soon find themselves back in the drop zone.

Mind, on current form, you wouldn’t bet against Sunderland upsetting the odds and picking up a couple of points in the run-up to the festive season.

If they manage that then they will remain in touch and reinforcements will arrive in January.

But Sunderland are still very much in the thick of a six-team battle to avoid the drop.

Nobody is kidding themselves.

Yet, there is genuine hope the Wearsiders will be playing Premier League football come August 2016 and taking full advantage of that bumper television deal.

It has taken a few weeks of tinkering, but Allardyce has struck upon a settled side and system.

If the back three of John O’Shea, Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Coates stay fit then 3-5-2 has proved it works.

It also allows Allardyce to play two strikers, with Sunderland not shy of goals – only two sides in the bottom half have scored more this season. The problem has been shipping goals at the other end.

But successive clean sheets have come at just the right time.

Sunderland have a clear plan under the experienced Allardyce, yet to be relegated from the Premier League.

That is why he was brought in and, while some of the football may be dull at times, Allardyce will do what it takes to grind out a result.

Newcastle, however, under beleaguered McClaren are floundering.

Just when it appears they are making “progress” they take four steps back.

The two clubs have enjoyed polar opposite weeks, Sunderland picking up six points while Newcastle have been battered by Leicester City and Palace.

As Alan Shearer said during his Match of the Day rant, under McClaren, Newcastle don’t seem to have a clear way of playing.

Not so, under tactically astute Allardyce.

And with the experience of O’Shea, Seb Larsson, Jermain Defoe, Steven Fletcher and Lee Cattermole to call upon, Sunderland should have enough to survive this campaign.

Not only that, but Allardyce is also getting performances from players who perhaps thought their Sunderland careers were at an end.

Patrick van Aanholt is the perfect example.

Since being recalled, he has impressed at left wing-back, a role he suits given his natural attacking instincts.

Defensively he still has a lot of room for improvement but he has shown signs of progress.

His positioning, anticipation and decision-making have improved.

Signs of the work being done on the training ground, with Sunderland unbeaten since the last two-week international break.

Perhaps that break came just at the right time as Allardyce moulds the team into his way of playing.

Relegation rivals Newcastle, however, show no such signs of improvement.