Sunderland still have it all to play for this season, but supporters will already be delighted with the improvements that have been made.
After failing to reach the play-offs last term some fans were skeptical over what the future had in store for their club as they continued to flounder in League One.
Things didn’t look like improving during the opening months of the season but after Lee Johnson’s introduction as head coach things started to click into place.
Results have improved and the Black Cats are now firmly in the mix to secure automatic promotion to the Championship.
There’s been plenty of improvements, but what have we learned about the Wearsiders during the 2020-21 campaign? Let’s take a look.
A solid defence is key
Everybody loves a free-flowing attack but it means nothing if you’re leaking goals.
Sunderland struggled to score goals the required number of goals needed to win matches earlier in the season -a trait that cost them plenty of points along the way.
Since then Lee Johnson’s side have really tightened up at the back and that has meant that the team look a lot more stable.
By keeping a clean sheet or just conceding one goal it means that your attackers only need to score one or two goals to win a game and it’s been exactly that approach that has ensured that Sunderland remain in control of their matches and ensures that they can grind out results in a steady, consistent manner.
Aiden McGeady isn’t finished yet
A year ago it seemed that the midfielder’s career at Sunderland was finished, but fast-forward 12 months and the Republic Of Ireland international is one of Lee Johnson’s key men.
Phil Parkinson ousted the 34-year-old and paid the price with his side really struggling to score the required goals to win matches, but after being brought in from the cold this term things have improved significantly.
McGeady has made 20 appearances for Sunderland this term and created 11 goals for his teammates, a stat that indicates that he could yet play a massive role in helping the club back to the Championship.
Charlie Wyke has the potential to be unstoppable
Another player who has undergone quite a transformation this season.
Wyke had never scored more than six in a campaign for Sunderland since making the move from Bradford City, but since Lee Johnson’s appointment he has been a force to be reckoned with after notching 26 goals already this term.
The 28-year-old thrives on crosses into the box and it’s no surprise to see the striker thriving on a system that is custom-made to get the best out of him.
If they can keep him fit between now and the end of the season you wouldn’t bet again him firing Sunderland to promotion.