SAFC - A Journey to the Top

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SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:01 am

SAFC - A Journey to the Top



After steering Sunderland to safety in the 2012/2013 season, Paolo Di Canio is looking for a massive improvement from his squad in the upcoming season. He, alongside new director of football Roberto De Fanti and Chief Scout Valentino Angeloni, has already made plenty of moves into the transfer market to improve his squad, the two most notable ones being the signings of Emanuele Giaccherini from Juventus and Jozy Altidore from AZ Alkmaar. However, it is no secret that Di Canio is looking for further additions to the squad, with full backs and a creative center midfielder being his top priority. Di Canio has lofty ambitions for his first full season in charge of the black cats, stating that instead of fighting it out at the bottom end of the table, he wants European Qualification from his team and a decent run in the FA Cup. Whether these lofty ambitions will be fulfilled however is yet to be seen...


With just over 3 weeks to go until the Black Cats kick off their season against Aston Villa, this is how their squad is shaping up:

GK: Vito Mannone (74), Kieran Westwood (79), Jordan Pickford (72)
RB: Phil Bardsley (77), Craig Gardner (73)
LB: Jack Colback (74)
CB: Modibo Diakite (86), John O'Shea (80), Wes Brown (82), Carlos Cuellar (77), Valentin Roberge (78)
DMF: Cabral (72), Lee Catermole (79)
CMF: Alfred N'Diaye (75), David Vaughan (80), Seb Larsson, (74)
LMF: Adam Johnson (85), James Mcclean (77)
RMF: Emanuele Giaccherini (86), Mavrias (73)
SS: Stephane Sessegnon (83), Ji Dong-Won (72)
CF: Stephen Fletcher (79), Jozy Altidore (77)

Di Canio has also recently made public the players within his squad who will be put up for sale or loan, with these being;

Transfer List:

Phil Bardsley - Di Canio was appalled with Bardsley after he stayed out until the early hours of the morning in a casino flashing the cash about, when he was supposed to be training in the morning.

Lee Catermole - He has the sort of spirit and fight Di Canio likes, however is too injury prone and is suspended too often.

Carlos Cuellar - Too inconsistent last season and with the center backs recently brought into the club, he is surplus to requirements.

David Vaughan - Although he will always be remembered for his great goal in the 3-0 victory over Newcastle at St James' Park, he is another who is just too inconsistent to justify a place in the squad.

Loan List:

John Egan - CB (68), El-Hadji Ba - DMF (59), Jordan Pickford - GK (72), Moberg-Karlsson - SS (58)

Note: I am using the Npower Championship/Bundesliga Option File from this site, however I have adjusted some players who I felt were rated too highly like James Mcclean and Carlos Cuellar. Also, a lot of players overall ratings seem to be higher in the Master League than when I was looking at them in edit mode... For example Johnson and Giaccherini were only 83's but are now both 86... Maybe it has something to do with their boots increasing some stats. I'm playing 10 minute matches on Superstar difficulty and will probably do monthly updates with the results of each game and the goalscorers if I remember to write them down! Laughing 

My next update will be of the first transfer Window and the result of our opening game against Aston Villa.

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by 7oy on Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:22 am

Cool, I am a Non-Geordie Nufc fan, but any rivalry aside this seems like a great idea for a master league and am very interested in how you get on.

About the stats we used a football manager to Pes converter, so FM obviously rates Sunderland's team highly, I think Mclean's so high because of his dribbling and Cellular has good strength in FM which is a huge stat in Pro Evo. Stats always increase in ML if you've player development on and it's because of the training mostly.

I am surprised you're keeping Ji-Don-Won. Gino Peruzzi is the man who is going to replace the very rubbish Bardsley and I think you signed him today. He won the league with Velez in 2013 so they've bought a champion and he's only 21 too a very promising signing and already a international for Argentina too.

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:56 am

I'm really liking the updated player stats on a whole, makes the game feel a lot more balanced. Something just didn't sit right with having Mcclean and Cuellar rated so well though after watching some of their performances last season Laughing

I wish Peruzzi was on the game too, I would have created him but I generally only use players with the correct faces so I wouldn't have kept him that long anyway. I'm hoping he's better than our last Argentinian full back Marcos Angeleri who was awful! I've boosted Ji up to a 72 overall aswell because I've always thought he was a decent footballer, probably too weak physically for the Premier League but he did really well on loan at Augsburg last season and apparently there was a few German clubs interested in him.

Thanks for the comment and keep up the great work with the option files!

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:27 am

Transfer Deadline Day


INS:

Sime Vrsalijko - Young 20 year old Croatian full back Vrsaljiko was brought in for just £4,500,000 from Dinamo Zagreb. Rated as a 77 overall, Di Canio believed he has the potential to grow into one of the world's best full backs however it is yet to be seen how he will fare making the step up to a far more competitive league.


Arthur Boka - Sunderland's second signing of the day was to bring in experienced 29 year old left back Arthur Boka from Stuttgart for just £3,000,000. At 29 years old he does not exactly fit the model Sunderland are going for, however Sunderland missed out on a few younger target and Boka was extremely cheap so Di Canio sanctioned the deal. He becomes the highest rated player in the squad at 87OVR, however due to his age I expect this to steadily decline.





Premier League - August 25th



Sunderland 1 - 0 Aston Villa (Fletcher 90+1)

Di Canio's boys had to wait until second half injury time to snatch a winner when Seb Larsson's deflected free kick fell to Steven Fletcher who drove the ball home from 6 yards out.


Next update will either be a September review or a 2 month review, not sure how I'm going to go about it yet, any suggestions are welcome.

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by Bluestillidie00 on Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:06 am

Nice updates there Wink Maybe just a little more info in the match reports?
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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:21 am

Bluestillidie00 wrote:Nice updates there ;)Maybe just a little more info in the match reports?
Yeah I'll try to add a little but more information in, if I just do monthly updates I should be able to remember the games in a bit more detail. I think you're going to enjoy one particular result in my next update Wink

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by 7oy on Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:29 am

Peruzzi will be in my next update and I have given him a pre-set face too Smile

Good start with a good win against Villa, starting as you mean to go on. Interesting to see how high you can finish, I'll predict a top ten finish but just missing out on Europe, but lets see if I can be proved wrong.

If you're looking for talent in January Carlos Fierro is a wonder kid and if he'll join you he'll be a talent in years to come for you. I also gave Fierro a pre-set face.

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:50 am

September 2013

Adam Johnson and Stephane Sessegnon celebrating Johnson's goal against Manchester City...

Premier League - September 3rd

Sunderland AFC 2 - 0 Manchester City
(Jozy Altidore 10', Adam Johnson 55')

2 wins out of 2 now for Di Canio's boys as they record their yearly home victory over Manchester City. It only took 10 minutes for Sunderland to take the lead, with Emanuele Giaccherini laying the ball across the box for American international Jozy Altidore to net his first goal for the club. Manchester City fought back as expected, twice going close through Navas and Negredo however it was Sunderland who managed to get the all so pivotal second goal of the game, with ex City player Adam Johnson drilling a free kick low into the corner of Pantilimon's net when everybody was expecting a cross. From this point on Sunderland were very comfortable and this victory took them to the top of the Premier League after just 2 games. Chelsea awaited next at Stamford bridge.

Premier League - September 8th

Chelsea FC 2 - 0 Sunderland AFC
(Juan Mata 74', Eden Hazard 89')

Sunderland's perfect start to the season came crashing down in front of them at Stamford Bridge, despite looking the more likely team to score for the majority of the game. Both Jozy Altidore and Stephane Sessegnon hit the woodwork for Sunderland in the second halg, but Chelsea took the lead when Romelu Lukaku's shot rebounded into the path of Juan Mata to turn in from a few yards out. Sunderland then piled men forward in search of an equalizer, and were caught on the counter attack as Eden Hazard made it 2-0 to Chelsea and secured the 3 points they needed to move to the top of the league. At the end of the day, Chelsea's quality shone through despite not putting in the sort of performance they would have liked.

Premier League - September 16th

Liverpool 0 - 3 Sunderland AFC
(Seb Larsson 34', Jozy Altidore 47', Ji 83')

Liverpool fans certainly didn't enjoy this one! They would have turned up expecting a win at home to the Black Cats, however they were comprehensively beaten by Di Canio's boys. From the moment Seb Larsson put Sunderland 1-0 up with a beautiful curling effort from just outside the box, Liverpool never really looked like getting back into the game despite their impressive front line of Aspas, Sturridge and Suarez. Altidore made the game 2-0 shortly after half time with his 2nd for the club and Korean international Ji Dong-Won rubbed salt in the Liverpool wounds on the counter attack late on to secure a comfortable 3-0 victory.

Premier League - September 22nd

Stoke City 2 - 2 Sunderland AFC
(Kenwyne Jones 16',57', Alfred N'Diaye 68', Steven Fletcher 80')

An enthralling tie between Stoke and Sunderland at the Britannia Stadium ended in a 2-2 draw, with both sides feeling they could have taken 3 points from the game. Sunderland old boy Kenywyne Jones was a thorn in the Black Cats' side, netting 2 goals to give Stoke a 2-0 lead by the 57th minute, however Alfred N'Diaye lead the Sunderland fightback with a scrappy goal in the 68th minute. It was then down to Steven Fletcher to pull Sunderland level in the 80th minute, but he did miss a late chance to take all 3 points when Jack Butland pulled out a great reflex save to deny the Scotsman.

Premier League - September 30th

Sunderland AFC 0 - 3 Cardiff FC
(Nicky Maynard 5', 10', Joe Mason 61')

I would certainly not have wanted to be in the home dressing room after this game. If Di Canio did dish out the hairdryer treatment, it will have been fully deserved. You would not have believed this was the same side who beat Manchester City and Liverpool! Just 10 minutes into the game Sunderland were 2-0 down through 2 Nicky Maynard goals, with the English striker capitalizing on a very unorganized Sunderland defense. You would have thought this would have garnered some sort of response from the Black Cats, but there was just no creative spark and they didn't manage to create any clear cut chances. Joe Mason then made it 3-0 on the counter attack, shrugging John O'Shea off the ball on the half way line before slotting the ball the advancing Kieran Westwood. This was by far the worst home game of Di Canio's reign so far!  

Current League Position - 7th with 10 points

Player of the Month: Alfred N'Diaye - This was pretty hard to pick as no one player stood out over the month, however N'Diaye showed he is capable of playing a Yaya Toure like role in the middle of the park, playing an important role in both the attacking and defensive periods of play.



Next month will see us take on Blackpool in the FA Cup, with games in the League against Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Hull and West Brom. Once again if you have any suggestions they are welcome.


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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:54 am

7oy wrote: Peruzzi will be in my next update and I have given him a pre-set face too Smile

Good start with a good win against Villa, starting as you mean to go on. Interesting to see how high you can finish, I'll predict a top ten finish but just missing out on Europe, but lets see if I can be proved wrong.

If you're looking for talent in January Carlos Fierro is a wonder kid and if he'll join you he'll be a talent in years to come for you. I also gave Fierro a pre-set face.

Yeah, my minimum target for this season is to at least get into the Europa League so any less than that and I will be disappointed!

And I'll take a look at Fierro, if he's anywhere near as good on PES as he is on Football manager he will be some player! My first target in January will probably be a young technical center midfielder, any suggestions?

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by Bluestillidie00 on Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:56 am

Poor month tbh. A 2-0 win over Liverpool, 3-0 to Cardiff. You're turning into Liverpool (Oh Wait!) Razz Good Updates mate Very Happy
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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:06 am

Bluestillidie00 wrote:Poor month tbh. A 2-0 win over Liverpool, 3-0 to Cardiff. You're turning into Liverpool (Oh Wait!) :PGood Updates mate Very Happy

Yeah, I was a bit disappointed to be honest, hopefully we'll improve next month! Glad you're enjoying it Very Happy 

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by 7oy on Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:38 am

I really enjoyed reading that Smile They sounded like brilliant matches to play expect for the hammering by cardiff. Lets not hope you're only going to be beating the big boys only to fall to all the smaller teams.

Verrati is a quality technical player who's only 20 and he's technique/ball control is 87. I dunno if he'll be in your price range though.

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:14 am

October 2013

The Benin international celebrating his opener against Crystal Palace

FA CUP 4th Round - October 3rd

Sunderland AFC 4 - 1 Blackpool FC
(Altidore 39', 70', 85', Matt Phillips 41',Giaccherini 65')

A great way to bounce back from Di Canio's boys in the FA Cup here after thier dismal performance against Cardiff City. Sunderland slighlty edged a nervy first half and took the lead through USA international Jozy Altidore, who latched onto a throughball to stab home past the advancing Blackpool keeper.However, Sunderland then fell asleep at the back and Blackpool equalized just 2 minutes later when Matt Phillips got on the end of a cross from the left hand side to volley it home from 6 yards out. Luckily for the Black Cats, this was the wake up call needed and they ran riot in the second half, Altidore completing his first hattrick for the club and Giaccherini curling the ball into the bottom left hand corner for a 4th.Norwich City await in the 5th Round and if they can win, Sunderland will make thier second Quater Final appearence in 3 seasons.

Premier League - October 6th

Sunderland AFC 3 - 0 Crystal Palace
(Sessegnon 28', 85', N'Diaye 58')

Consecutive commanding victories on the bounce for Sunderland as they look to build a run of form and momentum. Gone were the problems of their rigid, predictable attacking display in their last Premier League outing against Cardiff, instead the interchange between their striker's Fletcher and Sessegnon caused all sorts of problems for Crystal Palace. Sessegnon gave Sunderland the lead in the first half, faking going short for a pass before turning and getting onto the end of a Steven Fletcher through ball to make it 1-0. Frenchman N'Diaye added a second in the early period of the second half with a thunderous drive from outside the box and Sessegnon the confirmed the victory with his second of the game, an almost exact carbon copy of his first goal. Dropping Altidore after his hattrick was a controversial decision by Di Canio but it certainly payed off here!

Premier League - October 13th

Arsenal FC 2 - 2 Sunderland AFC
(Yaya Sanogo 8', Giaccherini 35', 90+1, Cazorla 48')


The Emirates stadium was treat to a brilliant game of football as Arsenal hosted Paolo Di Canio's Sunderland side. Young French striker Yaya Sanogo put Arsenal ahead early on in the game as he latched onto a through ball and slotted the ball past Kieran Westwood, but the lead did not last as long as the Gunners would have liked. Italian international Emanuele Giaccherini showed his class and why Di Canio payed 7.5 million Euro's for his signature, weaving his way through the Arsenal defense and leveling the game at 1-1. The game then took another twist just after half time, with Santi Cazorla putting Arsenal ahead in the game once again, putting in a rebound from a Sanogo shot which was saved by Westwood. It looked therefore, that Arsenal were heading for 3 points but in added on time it was that man Giaccherini who dragged Sunderland back into the game with a deflected shot from the edge of the area which wrong footed the Arsenal keeper. A point well earned for the Black Cats!

Premier League - October 21st

Sunderland AFC 2  - 0 Hull City
(Sessegnon 19', Giaccherini 88')

It was a day to remember for the little guys as Sunderland's two pint size magicians Sessegnon and Giaccherini put former Sunderland manager Steve Bruce's Hull City side to the sword at the Stadium of Light. However, Hull will feel aggrieved that they did not take anything from the game as they, and Arron McLean in particular, spurned numerous chances in front of goal and on another day they could have scored 3 or 4. The game hung in the balance right until Giaccherini netted his 4th goal of the month on the counter attack to sink the Tigers. Sunderland moved up to 5th in the league with this victory.

Premier League - October 27th

West Bromwich Albion 2  - 0  Sunderland AFC
(Shane Long 38', Anelka 85')

It took until the last game in October, but Sunderland have finally tasted defeat for the first time in 5 games, succumbing to a deadly strike force at The Hawthornes. Irish international Shane Long put West Brom ahead late on in the 1st half with a real poachers effort from inside the Sunderland area, and from then on there was only ever going to be one winner as Sunderland just never really got going. Nicholas Anelka doubled the West Brom lead in the 85th minute and that was how the game finished. This was only Sunderland's second defeat of the season and it saw them drop 2 places to 7th in the league.

Current Premier League Position - 8th (17 Points)

Player of the Month: Emanuele Giaccherini - With 4 goals and 2 assists in the month, Giaccherini was an ever present in the Sunderland side and showed he is worth the price Sunderland paid for him.




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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by Bluestillidie00 on Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:47 am

Good month. Bar the West Brom match of course Wink
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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:28 am

Bluestillidie00 wrote:Good month. Bar the West Brom match of course Wink

Cheers, should get at least 1 update up today, including an absolute thriller against Norwich in the FA Cup Wink 

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:42 am

November 2013

Steven Fletcher celebrating his hattrick against Tottenham

Premier League - November 4th

Southampton 1 - 2 Sunderland AFC
(Altidore 32',86', Lambert 84')

Heading to St Mary's, Di Canio challenged his players to give him a response to the defeat at West Brom, and a response he recieved. Sunderland dominated the early periods of the game and twice could have took the lead through Sessegnon and N'Diaye, but they had their efforts saved by the Saint's keeper. They did eventually take the lead, however, when Boka went on a lung busting run down the left flank and drilled a cross low and hard into the box where Jozy Altidore used his immense body balance to edge in front of the center half and poke the ball in from 6 yards out. As the game continued, Sunderland grew into the game more and more, but Southampton caught them on the counter in the 85th mminute and grabbed an undeserved equalizer through veteran striker Ricky Lambert. From kickoff Sunderland immediately spread the ball wide right to Giaccherini, who skipped past Luke Shaw and layed the ball of to Jozy Altidore who smashed home his second goal of the game to restore Sunderland's lead. A thourougly deserved win for the Black Cats!

FA CUP 4th Round - November 7th

Norwich City 3 - 5 Sunderland AFC (AET)
(Kamara 24', Jack Colback OG 28', Van Wolfswinkel 51', Sessegnon 55', N'Diaye 90+1', Wickham 90+2', 116', 120')

In a potential game of the season, Sunderland came back from 3 goals down to beat Norwich in extra time, with two goals in second half stoppage time from Sunderland saving the tie for them. The game was all Norwich early on and they lead 2-0 at half time through Kamara and an own goal from stand in left back Jack Colback. This lead was shortly extended to 3 shortly after the break, with Van Wolfswinkel pouncing on an error in the Sunderland defense to put Norwich seemingly out of sight. However, this goal sparked Sunderland to life and Sessegnon replied with an effort from just inside the box to make it 3-1 just 4 minutes later. Sunderland then had to wait until the first minute of added on time to score again, when Alfred N'Diaye smashed a long range effort into the top corner of Nash's goal. Immediately from kickoff, Sunderland won the ball back and spread it wide right to Giaccherini, who beat Martin Olsson and crossed for Connor Wickham who slid in at the back post to make it 3-3 and send the game into extra time, where 2 further goals from Connor Wickham gave him the match ball and sent Sunderland through to the quarter finals where they will meet Bolton, who knocked them out of the competition last season.

Premier League - November 10th

Sunderland AFC 4 - 3 Tottenham Hotspur
(Fletcher 18', 42', 56', Adebayor 28', 80', N'Diaye 31', Bale 52')

After hattricks for fellow strikers Altidore and Wickham in recent games, this game did a world for Steven Fletcher's confidence as he managed to gain a hatrick of his own. He opened then scoring with a great header form a Seb Larsson cross and then put Sunderland ahead once again after Adebayor had equalized. Alfred N'Diaye then got his second goal in as many games to put Sunderland 3-1 up, but shortly after half time Gareth Bale brought the game back into Tottenham's reach with a brillaint volley at the back post. Sunderland fans wern't to worry though, as Steven Fletcher quickly regained Sunderland's two goal advantage and despite Adebayor's 2nd goal of the game late on, Sunderland held on for the victory to send thier fans home happy!

Premier League - November 17th

West Ham United 3 - 8 Sunderland AFC
(Andy Carroll 2', Fletcher 11', 29', 72', N'Diaye 15', Morrison 42', Sessegnon 47', 75', Diame 61', Altidore 79', Johnson 85'

Another crazy game involving Sunderland AFC, this time seeing them win 8-3, yes that's right 8-3 away to West Ham. The game only had to wait 2 minutes for it's first goal, when Andy Carroll nothched a header at the back post. This was as good as it got for West Ham, as two goals from Steven Fletcher and one from Alfred N'Diaye put Sunderland 3-1 up, although Ravel Morrison did pull one back to make it 3-2 at half time. In the second half Sunderland were cutting the West Ham defense open at ease, with Fletcher grabbing one more to complete his second hattrick in two games and Stephane Sessegnon bagging a brace and one from Jozy Altidore. Nobody can accuse Di Canio's boys of playing typical Italian football! This win takes Sunderland up to 4th in the Premier League table, leapfrogging rivals Newcastle United.

Premier League - November 25th]

Fulham FC 1 - 4 Sunderland AFC
(Mcclean 37', N'Diaye 61', Altidore 67', Berbatov 69', Giaccherini 73')

Sunderland's amazing form continued at Craven Cottage, with a 4-1 beating of Fulham. James Mcclean took advantage of a rare start to make it 1-0 at half time, before Jozy Altidore and Alfred N'Diaye made it 3-0 with 2 goals in the space of 6 minutes. Berbatov did pull one back for Fulham, but Giaccherini put the icing on the cake and made it 4-1 to Sunderland!

Premier League - November 28th

Norwich City 1 - 3 Sunderland AFC
(Sessegnon 37', Larsson 53', Fletcher 58', Kamara 81')

Sunderland completed a perfect month results wise at Carrow Road, putting Norwich to the sword with 3 goals either side of half time. Kai Kamara did pull one back late on in the game, however Norwich never really looked like harming the Black Cats and Paolo will be delighted with the result. The only concerning aspect of the month is the fact that Sunderland never kept a clean sheet in any of the games, and if they hadn't scored quite as many the results may not have looked quite as good.

Current Premier League Position: 2nd (32 Points)
A brilliant result takes us up to 2nd place, just (5 or 6) points behind Chelsea in 1st and only 1 point ahead in Everton in 6th place.

Player of the Month: Steven Fletcher (7 Goals, 2 Assists)




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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by 7oy on Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:28 am

Shocked look at all them quality matches you've played through haha. Sounds like an amazing ML. Sunderland the surprise package going for the UCL, could it be?

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by Bluestillidie00 on Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:07 pm

Wickam scored a hat trick Laughing
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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:56 am

7oy wrote:Shocked look at all them quality matches you've played through haha. Sounds like an amazing ML. Sunderland the surprise package going for the UCL, could it be?

Yeah it's been pretty enjoyable so far! Still pretty tight between 2nd and 6th but we should definitely qualify for European football of some sorts... Also, in December we have the first Tyne-Wear derby of the story to look forward to! Smile 

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:59 am

Bluestillidie00 wrote:Wickam scored  a hat trick Laughing

Even I couldn't believe that one! Laughing 

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Re: SAFC - A Journey to the Top

Post by safcscotty on Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:04 pm

December 2013

Ji Dong-Won celebrating his winner at Old Trafford


Premier League - December 1st

Sunderland AFC 3 - 3 Swansea City
(Bony 27', Fletcher 43', 48', Ki 58', 70', Sessegnon 90+4

Sunderland's winning streak finally came to an end at home to Swansea City, however they did manage to keep thier undefeated streak going due to a last gasp equalizer through Stephane Sessegnon. Swansea took the lead in the game through records signing Wilfried Bony, however 2 goals either side of half time from in-form striker Steven Fletcher put Sunderland ahead in the game. However, Korean international midfielder Ki curled home a great freekick from just outside the box to level it at 2-2, before putting Swansea ahead with a thunderbolt from 25 yards into the far right hand corner of Kieran Westwood's net. However, just as Swansea looked to be heading for victory, Sunderland patiently worked the ball around the edge of the box to Adam Johnson, who skipped past Chico and drilled a cross low and hard to the back post for Sessegnon to tap in. A good result for both teams in the end maybe?

Premier League - December 9th

Sunderland AFC 1 - 1 Everton FC
(Hitzlsperger 70', Fletcher 90+1')

2 consecutive home draws in a row now for the Black Cats, and once again they needed to be bailed out in stoppage time to avoid defeat. Sunderland really struggled to break down Everton, implementing new manager Roberto Martinez's favoured 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation and when German Thomas Hitzlsperger slid in in front of Kieran Westwood to put Everton 1-0 up, things looked bleak for Sunderland. However, when you have a striker with the clinical finishing of Steven Fletcher, all he needs is one chance and when this chance arrived he buried it to give Sunderland a spoil of the shares. Di Canio's boys travel to champions Manchester United in thier next game...

Premier League - December 12th

Manchester United 2 - 3 Sunderland AFC
(Altidore 47', Sessegnon 58', Welebck 67', Valencia 69', Ji 89')

Di Canio's boys finally managed their first victory of the month, in their hardest game on paper. Heading into the game, Di Canio was very vocal in the press about his team's chances, and his confidence was proved correct as a late Ji Dong-Won goal gave the Black Cats all 3 points. This all came about after Manchester United had clawed their way back into the game from two goals behind, scored shortly after half time from Jozy Altidore and Stephane Sessegnon. The revival was lead by former Black Cat loanee Danny Welbeck, who used his blistering pace to get in behind the Sunderland defense and slot past Kieran Westwood. Then, straight from kick off, Manchester United won the ball straight back and headed towards the Sunderland goal where Antonio Valencia bent the ball into the top right hand corner to level the game at 2-2. However it was Ji Dong-Won who would have the last laugh, controlling a pass on the edge of the area before curling a lovely shot into the top left hand corner, a goal which is almost becoming a trademark from Ji this season.

Premier League - December 15th

Sunderland AFC 2  -  1 Newcastle United
(N'Diaye 14', Ji 38', Diakite OG 83')

In only his second Tyne-Wear derby in charge, Paolo Di Canio kept a 100% record in the tie after a hard thought with the Magpies. The result meant the Black Cats jumped above Newcastle in the Premier League, with bith teams performing above expectations. Alfred N'Diaye opened the scoring for Sunderland with a header after a rebounded effort from Adam Johnson fell to N'Diaye just 10 yards out. This lead was doubled shortly after when Ji scored a goal which was a carbon copy of the one he got against Manchester United. Into the second half, Newcastle grew into the game more and only a few last gasp challenges from Modibo Diakite prevented the likes of Ben Arfa and Cisse from getting through on goal. However, Newcastle did pull one back when Diakite miscued a clearance from a Gouffran cross into his own net on 83 minutes, but the Black Cats managed to hold out for a valuable 3 points!

Premier League - December 22nd

Aston Villa 0 - 2 Sunderland AFC
(Altidore 12', Giaccherini 18')

Paolo Di Canio and his Sunderland team put to bed the nightmares of last season's 6-1 drubbing at Villa Park, with a comfortable 2-0 victory against the Villians. Early goals from Jozy Altidore and Emanuele Giaccherini were enough to give the Black Cats all 3 points, and although Christian Benteke put himself around up front Aston Villa never really looked like scoring. With this result, Sunderland stayed unbeaten for a second month in a row and took 11 points from a possible 15 available.

Current League Position: 3rd (43 Points)

So, after 20 games we sit in 3rd place. Chelsea are 6 points ahead in 1st, Machester City are 3 points ahead in 2nd and we are 6 points ahead of Everton in 5th. From here I would be disappointed to not make the Champions League next season. We could even potentially challenge for the title but that will probably depend more on the form of the two teams ahead of me!

Player of the Month: Boka - Our unsung hero so far this season, consistently putting in solid performance at full back and has barely missed a game since he joined!




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