Thursday 24 August 2017 / 04:37 PM

THE SEASON OF ‘BIG SAM’

After a 3-0 win over Everton, Sunderland have confirmed they will be staying in the Premier League next year.

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has once again shown proved his skill in a relegation dogfight. Sunderland’s season has been laced with controversy and ‘Big Sam’ has shown his mettle as a manger since taking over last October.

The goals came in the form of an innocuous free kick from Patrick van Aanholt and a close-range double from Lamine Kone. This performance was a stark contrast to the 6-2 defeat Sunderland suffered at the hands of Everton in November.

Everton played a classy brand of football for 20 minutes but pressure from the Black Cats broke down Everton’s build-up play. Once the first goal was in, it was clear the team from Merseyside were not interested in the contest.

The loss will increase the pressure on Everton’s manager, Roberto Martiez. He has been criticised heavily for Everton’s lacklustre performances by the fans, and this looks likely to continue when the Toffees take on Norwich at Goodison next

After the match, Allardyce told The Daily Mail it was bittersweet relegating his former club, Newcastle.

Allarydce also said hearing former Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat say the team wasn’t good enough to stay up served as motivation for the season.

“It is sweet proving Dick wrong but not relegating Newcastle, it’s not Rafa Benitez’s fault, he’s came in and made a gallant effort,” Allardyce said.

“But Dick said this team would be relegated and I’ve used that as a motivation tool for the players and we’ve gone and proved him wrong.”

He also said the club should be striving for higher achievements than avoiding relegation each year.

“This football club cannot be cheering and doing a lap of honour when avoiding relegation anymore. This was the worst season you could ever get relegated from the Premier League, what with the new TV money,” Allardyce said.

“So it’s outstanding that we’ve achieved that. From the grim dark days of December and five defeats on the trot to this – the last two games have been a joy.

“It has been a testing season on and off the field. But for me, I’ve always tried to focus on the players.”

“So it’s a wonderful feeling that appreciation from the fans at the end. You strive for success for the supporters. You will come and go but they will remain.

“I’m delighted for them and this is probably one of my greatest achievements in management.”

It has been especially challenging off the pitch, with former England and Sunderland winger Adam Johnson jailed on a sexual assault charge.

Allardyce copped criticism for allowing Johnson to train with the squad in the months preceding his trial.

He told The Guardian earlier this year he was extremely frustrated with how Johnson communicated during this time.

“I’m hugely disappointed in Adam Johnson, and what has happened,” Allardyce said.

“But my sympathies don’t lie with him, they lie with the victim and the family. As far as I know, Adam was pleading not guilty all the way through from the day I arrived.

“Obviously this incident had happened well before I got here. The information to me was that he was pleading not guilty to all charges, and that was why we continued to let him train and play for us.

“We were all at the football club stunned and shocked the day before the trial started when we heard a guilty plea come out. I was sat at home when it came on the news, and I was just gobsmacked because as far as we were concerned, it was going to be not guilty on all charges.

“He’s gone through the process, and the process has proven that he’s guilty. Now he has to serve his sentence, and there’s not a lot of sympathy here for Adam Johnson. There’s no doubt about that.”

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About the author

Mitchell Van Homrigh

Brisbane-based Mitchell arrived at CBS in 2016 to bolster the site’s football and cricket coverage.

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