Jack McGraghan: This could be the year Sunderland finally pay the price for a history of bad decisions

Patrick van Aanholt in action against Leicester City
Patrick van Aanholt in action against Leicester City
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This season looks as if it could finally be the one to see Sunderland relegated from the Premier League with the Black Cats four points from safety in 18th place.

But how has it come to this?

In truth, the foundations have been years in the making, with poor boardroom and managerial decisions the major factor in the Wearsiders’ downfall.

After being promoted under Roy Keane in time for the 2007-08 season, Sunderland achieved their goal of survival by finishing 15th with a squad that certainly wasn’t the strongest at the time.

It was the sales of Bent and Henderson three years later that sent the club into a downward spiral however, as the sizeable funds suddenly made available to Steve Bruce were wasted in a summer spending spree that failed to replace his two star players.

The 2011-12 season also saw Niall Quinn replaced by Ellis Short as chairman, and although the Texan is undoubtedly an acute businessman, he lacks the footballing knowledge possessed by the Irishman.

Since promotion, Sunderland have suffered from poor recruitment as expensive signings such as Jack Rodwell, Connor Wickham and Jozy Altidore - amongst others - fail to justify their price tags.

Sunderland have also witnessed a revolving door of managers, from the experienced Martin O’Neill to the rookie Paolo Di Canio, but none have been able to finish higher than 10th since the club’s top flight return.

This lack of progression has led to many clubs from the Championship overtaking the Black Cats in the Premier League, with a total of 10 teams currently above them despite being promoted in seasons after them.

One thing is certain.

If Sunderland are to drop into the Championship, you can’t say it hasn’t been a long time coming.

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