I have put Sunderland in 11th prior to the season starting this term. After the train wreck that was Sunderland last season, they seem to have found their way. Bringing in Wigan boss Steve Bruce was the smartest thing the Black Cats have done in awhile. Bruce brings a wealth of experience and has already started reforming the team to make them competitive in the league this season. They should find themselves somewhere in the middle, but with more talent than Bruce had at Wigan, there is a chance he could push them a little higher.
Key Additions: Fraizer Campbell (Manchester United), Paulo Da Silva (Toluca), Lorik Cana (Marseille)
Losses: Dean Whitehead (Stoke), Michael Chopra (Cardiff City)
Now Chopra is not much of a loss as he left on loan last season, but he does drop some off the books by making his loan permanent. Whitehead felt he needed to move on and Stoke seem to be happy to have him, and I am sure the Black Cat’s fans will wish him the best. Bruce has brought in some talent to fill some gaps though. Campbell is young and adds to the attack while Cana was a shocker of a buy that will add talent and leadership to this side, already being named Captain by Bruce. Da Silva is a Paraguayan International who should be able to step in and help strengthen the defense for the Black Cats. Bruce has been smart while making his buys and is still looking at other targets as well, such as Spurs’ front man Darren Bent, but the haggling could see Bruce take his business elsewhere if a deal is not done before long. With the moves Bruce has made his side still look like a mid table team, but with good coaching it could be possible to see them bump up the table a few spots by the end.
After being pegged the next team to pull a Derby County and finish dead last with a one way ticket back to the Coca-Cola Championship, Stoke surprised all and finished in the 12th spot during their first season in the Premier League. Stoke’s manager Tony Pulis guided the team to a 12-9-17 record that kept the side well clear of the relegation zone. Coming in to their second season most do not think this will be the case again, but I think Stoke will stay steady and finish in the 12th spot again this season. They have added a few names to the side, nobody that will turn any heads, but with steady play they should have no problem staying up again this season.
Key Additions: Dean Whitehead (Sunderland), Matthew Lund (Crewe Alexandra), Ben Marshall (Crewe Alexandra)
Of the additions Stoke have made this offseason, only Whitehead should see any first team action. The boys from Crewe Alexandra have both signed two year deals, but both look to be additions for the future in the side. Stoke have lost nobody this offseason and have resigned most of their big name players to long term contracts. If the boys can continue with their play and get the results needed, they should stay up with ease this term. So as we all look forward to the new season, we can be assured there will be many more long throws into the box from Rory Delap.