Sunderland to start with a bang
Sunderland get their second successive League One campaign underway on Saturday when they host the mighty Oxford United. Can Jack Ross allay fan fears and get his talented charges to fire? Have a read of our preview here:
Do or die for Captain Jack
At the end of last season, Sunderland fell to defeat in the play-off final having rather stumbled through the campaign to get there. The Wembley lights shone down on a group of players that appeared to be overawed by the occasion.
The fan reaction to the defeat varied widely but it cannot be ignored that Jack Ross was the target of some discontent. His tactics had been questioned as had his recruitment but common sense reigned supreme and he was given a second season to get things right
The summer started slowly amid takeover rumours but the recruitment drive began to get up to speed as new talent roared through the door. Conor McLaughlin should solve the issues faced at right-back while Jordan Willis is a solid defender.
The stand out pair, however, are Marc McNulty and George Dobson brought in on loan from Reading and for an undisclosed fee from Walsall respectively. Dobson, in particular, is an impressive capture. Despite the Saddlers relegation last season he stood out like a meat pie on a salad bar. The kid has some talent and Sunderland have bagged themselves a superb prospect who can contribute immediately.
The energy that both he and Luke O’Nien can now add to the Black Cats centre is exciting, let's just hope the football Ross gets out of them is equal to it.
It’s oh so quiet…
Never has a Bjork song been quite so apt but for Oxford United fans this summer has been pretty awful. The Yellows have managed to sign a couple of decent players with Alex Rodriguez Gorrin and Tariqe Fosu arriving from Motherwell and Charlton respectively but there are some huge holes that need filling quickly.
The failure to sign a striker with less than a week to go before the season kicks off is unforgivable not only because it shows a lack of urgency but also because this is the issue that nearly saw Oxford fall into League Two last season. The Curtis Nelson replacement has also not arrived with the defence looking extremely vulnerable in pre-season.
To make matters worse, Gavin Whyte appears to be off to join Nelson at Cardiff and although the money would be welcome the timing just plain stinks. If some business is not concluded quickly Oxford’s season could be in the gutter before a ball is even kicked.
Sunderland v Oxford United betting tip
With the talent available to them, especially up top, you have to back the Black Cats to do well in 2019-20 – anything less would be a failure. So backing Sunderland to win by two goals at odds of 7/2 feels about right in this season opener.