The nightmare is over. How did Sunderland survive?

After four long years, the day has finally come when Sunderland fans can breathe easy. The club, which has a very rich and at the same time difficult history, is returning to the background of the Premier League, but does not intend to stop there. The goals are ambitious, but we must not forget what has happened recently. It won’t be easy, but it’s important for Black Cats to re-introduce themselves.

David Moyes – this name will always be dreamed of in the worst nightmares of Sunderland fans. After all, this coach is the main culprit of one of the worst seasons in the history of the club since then. Black Cats After 10 years, they said goodbye to the Premier League. However, it’s hard to say that this recession is not worth it, and the Scots did something extremely bad, so it all ended that way.

The seasons before the 2016/2017 games were just slippery, and Sunderland saved him from falling by filming him. All thanks to characters like Sam Allardyce. Getting to the championship was a matter of moments, but fate was not kind to Moyes and put the burden on his shoulders. However, the Scottish manager should not be completely fired. It was no coincidence that the team he led got off to the worst start in Premier League history.

David Moyes and Jermain Defoe

David Moyes and Jermain Defoe

In the 2016/2017 season, Sunderland recorded its first victory only in the 11th round. He has previously drawn two and lost eight. Moyes’ team then scored a total of 7 goals and conceded up to 20 goals. Their game looked disastrous and it should be noted that they did not have a difficult schedule. So from the beginning, everyone was heading for the abyss, and in the end they hit it. Although there is not the slightest sign of improvement, it is difficult to say why the owners of the time delayed the dismissal of the Scotsman.

Although it was known long ago that the club would be relegated, the coach continued until the end of the season. At the time, it seemed that David Moyes would not be able to find work in England after the nightmare of living at Manchester United and soon at Sunderland. It turned out completely differently. The Scotsman is currently playing in the European Cups with West Ham, and the Black Cats have just emerged from the swamp.

How did Sunderland survive?


If we look at what happened next, we will understand that it is not the worst thing Moyes has done, Sunderland will come to Ligue 1 next season. However, the Scots will forever be a symbol of autumn, because it all started with it. If the club had remained in the Premier League at that time, its history could have gone in a very different direction. These are, of course, just speculations, but as you know, it’s easier to build something with the money you can get from the English elite.

The following years were a real test, especially for Sunderland fans, who were almost always worried about the club’s existence. Former owner Ellis Short lost heart to the management of Stadium of Light and was looking forward to a new buyer. He found it only in 2018, and this information could have been optimistic at first. The new buyer was Stuard Donald, a well-known businessman who already had experience in this field, as he supported Oxford United.

Ellis Short (right)

Ellis Short (right)

The announcements were as loud as ever. – We have a carefully thought-out plan to rebuild Sunderland, make it sustainable and, with the help of the fans, restore a sense of pride and reconnect it with the local community. We will roll up our sleeves to see what needs to be done to prepare this club for a new start – Donald announced at the beginning of his club adventure.

It didn’t take long, because in less than two years, the owner was looking for new investors who wanted to buy at least part of their shares. All this was most likely due to the lack of success, as the side, meanwhile, lost to Charlton 2-1 in the playoffs. German Patrick Bauer scored the winning goal at Wembley in the fourth minute of extra time.

The next season was a complete disaster. The team, led by Jack Ross and then Phil Parkinson, was terrible. Instead of fighting for a direct promotion, there was a problem getting to places that at least allowed them to play in the playoffs. Worse, the Covid-19 pandemic began, so the games ended in early March. That meant Sunderland were in the lowest place in history, in eighth place in the third tier league table. This has never happened before, so the information for fans has changed.


At the time, Donald was increasingly willing to compromise to get rid of the club used by 24-year-old Cyril Louis-Dreyfus. He is the son of the famous French billionaire Robert Louis-Dreyfus, former CEO of Adidas and the majority owner of Olympique Marseille. The young businessman’s acquisition of a majority stake and his appointment as the club’s new president was greeted with great enthusiasm by fans.

Of course, despite our mistakes, we did everything with the best of intentions. Always considering this ultimate goal, but we have failed – then Stewart accepted Donald. Now the hopes are mainly to become the creator of the power of the French club, which twice reached the final of the UEFA Cup under his father. Therefore, it was hoped that his son would be able to manage the club well.

Cyril Louis-Dreyfus

Cyril Louis-Dreyfus

Indeed, as it turned out, these hopes were not unfounded. By cleaning up the sports department, Dreyfus made some very important and, above all, bold decisions. The French are especially praised for their collaboration with the club’s sporting director, Kristjaan Speakman. The 43-year-old specialist is considered one of the main architects of the championship last season. The Englishman was hired by the Stadium of Light in December 2020, before the club’s official appearance, but it is said to be his decision.

Dreyfus officially became president of the club on February 18, 2021, so only the 2021/2022 season was the first full season under his and Speakman’s rule. Sunderland played in the play-off semi-finals in May, but were eliminated after a 2-3 overall loss to Lincoln City. Thus, the Black Cats have secured their fourth season in League 1. However, it was decided to keep Lee Johnson’s coach.


The decision was wrong, as the Englishman was fired after losing 6-0 to Bolton in January. Such an action was needed. Sunderland were once again far from direct uphill, but even dangerously close to exiting the playoffs. It was then that perhaps the most important decision for the club’s future was to hire Alex Neil. The young coach made an unusual impression on the players, because their game suddenly began to look completely different.

Neil led Sunderland to 18 games, won 10, drew seven and lost just one. 37 points, which is a little above 2 on average and a certain increase in the playoffs. – You always believe. You need to believe that you can handle such a challenge. The last thing I wanted to do was enter the First League and fail. It was easier for me to say, “I’ll wait for an easy job.” But I was expecting something that would really interest me and allow me to prove myself. And I have never been afraid of failure – The English coach explained his decision.

Alex Neil

Alex Neil

It turned out perfectly and became a new idol of his fans. An idol who has been missing at the Stadium of Light for many years. He did his best. He reached the playoffs relatively quietly, where he chased first Sheffield Wednesday and then Wicomb Wanderer. There were 46,000 Sunderland fans in the final at Wembley, which created a fantastic atmosphere. Enthusiasm for a big ball is great in the north of England, so the first step to reaching the Championship is considered to be salvation.

The other goal, of course, is to advance to the Premier League, where Sunderland have been for five years. First, you must be careful not to return to the third level of the game. At this point, you should remember Donald’s name, because the latest information about the English businessman does not fill his fans with optimism.

The owner, hated by the fans, felt the opportunity to make money again, because the club was on the rise. So there were rumors of interest in the club of the group dealing with cryptocurrencies – The Fans Together. The English club wants to give to indefinite investors, but Dreyfus does not agree. In any case, Donald and his partners can still sell at least part of their shares in TFT. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

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