Skip to content

Sunderland’s escape: Tracking the key moments in Black Cats’ dramatic season

May 7, 2014, 6:54 PM EDT

sunderland_fans AP

With today’s win over West Brom, Sunderland became the first team since the 2004-05 Baggies to survive after spending Christmas at the bottom of the table. The close quarters of this season’s bottom helped the Black Cats, but over time, that will be forgotten. For years into the future, fans and pundits will be referring to this as the club’s great escape.

Here’s how Sunderland’s improbable  run played out, from August to May:

August 17 – The Black Cats open the season as victims of a smash-and-grab, with Fulham taking full points out of the Stadium of Light. Though they drew at Southampton a week later, a 3-1 loss at Selhurst Park in round three proved the turning point of Paolo Di Canio’s tenure at Sunderland.

September 21 – Sunderland’s 3-0 loss at West Brom caps a disastrous opening month of the season. At 0-1-4, the team’s Premier League obituary’s already being written, with famous Sundlerand fan Jonathan Wilson (author of Inverting the Pyramid) expressing the ironic hope the team can “best” the 15-point season that saw the club relegated in 2006.

September 22 – Paolo Di Canio is gone. Five games into the season, having won two of 12 since being brought in at the previous campaign, the former Swindon Town boss is fired. In search of its next manager, Sunderland would lose its next three matches.

October 8 – After two weeks’ speculation linking him to the job, former Brighton & Hove Albion manager Gus Poyet is appointed as Di Canio’s successor. After winning two of his first four games in charge, Poyet lost three of four, leaving Sunderland at the bottom of the table in mid-December.

December 14 – Sunderland ends a two-game slide with a 0-0 at Upton Park, a result that stirs discontent about Sam Allardyce’s job at West Ham. The result begins a seven week,  16-point run, with the Black Cats surviving in both the FA and League cups.

February 1 – Sunderland claims a 3-0 win over rival Newcastle at St. James’ Park, leaving the team unbeaten in four and 4-4-1 in its previous nine. It’d be 87 days before the Black Cats claimed their next Premier League victory.

March 2 – Sunderland lose the Capital One Cup final to Manchester City, but along the way  (and during an FA Cup run), the club piled up games in hand. For months, they’d prove supporters’ only consolation as their club struggled to find its form.

March 31 – If Sunderland can’t win these, they’re destined to go down. You’d forgive a supporter for thinking that after the team’s 2-1 home loss to West Ham. Though Gus Poyet felt his team “better in every respect,” West Ham still left with full points against the league’s cellar dwellers. It’s the third in a five-match losing streak Sunderland would carry into mid-April.

April 3 – Sunderland hear its penalty for playing an ineligible Ji Dong-won earlier in the season: a six-figure fine. The leniency surprised Gus Poyet, but the Black Cats’ survival hopes are bolstered by avoiding a points deduction (hopefully).

April 12 – An own goal by Wes Brown leaves the Black Cats 1-0 losers to visiting Everton. In last place and winless in league since Feb. 1, Sunderland’s matches in hand are the club’s only reason for home.

April 16 – Let the dream begin. In last place coming into the match, Sunderland gets two goals from Connor Wickham to briefly take a late 2-1 lead on Manchester City. A late Samir Nasri goal made it 2-2, but Sunderland still take a point from the then-title favorites.

April 19 – Handing Chelsea its first loss at home under Jose Mourinho in 77 matches, the Black Cats continue their climb out of the cellar, with Fabio Borini’s 82nd minute winner giving the team a 2-1 upset against another title frontrunner.

May 3 – Thanks to a Sebastian Larsson goal, the Black Cats take a 1-0 win out of Old Trafford. With a huge goal difference edge on Norwich, Sunderland needs only one point in its last two games to survive.

May 7 – Who needs one in two when you can claim three all at once? Goals from Jack Colback and Fabio Borini lead Sunderland to a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion, giving the team 13 points in its last five games. Going into the last round of the season, the Black Cats sit 15th, their four-game winning streak confirming another season in the Premier League.

Latest Posts
  1. Americans Abroad preview: Howard and Guzan face Manchester opposition

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:38 PM EDT

    Everton v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    Tim Howard takes on his former club Manchester United, while Brad Guzan looks to keep Manchester City off the scoresheet.

  2. Tottenham looking to sell Adebayor at season’s end

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-FA CUP-TOTTENHAM-LEICESTER Getty Images

    Finding a club to pay his $150,000 per week wages is the only problem for Spurs.

  3. Premier League Preview: West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool

    Apr 24, 2015, 7:46 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Liverpool - FA Cup Semi-Final Aston Villa v Liverpool - FA Cup Semi-Final

    The Baggies must defend The Hawthorns as Liverpool is barely clinging on to top-four dreams.

  4. Hull City players face pay cuts up to 50-percent if relegated

    Apr 24, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Swansea City v Hull City - Premier League Getty Images

    Clinging onto safety in the Premier League, Hull City players now have some added incentive to avoid the drop.

  5. Van Gaal: Ryan Giggs will be the next manager at Manchester United

    Apr 24, 2015, 5:37 PM EDT

    Manchester United Training and Press Conference Manchester United Training and Press Conference

    Still in his first season as manager at Old Trafford, LVG has already endorsed his top assistant to be the next in line.

  6. Premier League Preview: Manchester City vs. Aston Villa

    Apr 24, 2015, 4:42 PM EDT

    Can Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa continue their climb up the table at the Etihad?

  7. SportsWorld: Jose Fonte talks playing with Ronaldo, shares thoughts on MLS

    Apr 24, 2015, 3:42 PM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Joe Prince-Wright sat down with the Southampton defender to see how the Saints’ skipper has evolved into one of the best center-backs in the Premier League.

  8. VIDEO: PST Extra asks if Liverpool, Manchester City should get new managers

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Manchester City Getty Images

    In the latest PST Extra we take a quick look at why whispers about managers losing their jobs at Liverpool, Man City are getting louder.

  9. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Time for the underdogs to shine

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:06 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor predicts the scores in the PL this weekend.

  10. Could Tottenham share their stadium with an NFL team? Here’s how it will work

    Apr 24, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT

    SPURSSTADIUM1

    Spurs are reportedly in talks with the NFL about housing a franchise in their new stadium.

  11. VIDEO: PST Extra picks Premier League’s Best XI from 2014-15 season. Agree?

    Apr 24, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    What do you think of these 11 players getting Team of the Year honors?

  12. WATCH: NBC Sports’ Premier League TV schedule – Week 34

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 34.

  13. Jose Mourinho: “Arsene Wenger is not my rival” ahead of Arsenal vs. Chelsea

    Apr 24, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    WengerMourinho Getty Images

    Mourinho stirs the pot before huge clash with Arsenal on Sunday.

  14. Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Can Saints get revenge on Pochettino as he returns to St Mary’s? Watch live, Saturday, 7:45 a.m ET.

  15. Injury update on Chelsea’s Diego Costa. Is he fit for London derby vs. Arsenal?

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:10 AM EDT

    Chelsea v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    Jose Mourinho has delivered an update on Costa’s progress ahead of Sunday’s big game.

  16. Pochettino: Avoiding Europa League could help Spurs make Champions League next year

    Apr 23, 2015, 11:17 PM EDT

    Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham Hotspur FC Getty Images

    Mauricio Pochettino feels that any team not having to contend with Europa League has a better chance of qualifying for Champions League.

  17. With Manchester City circling, Bayern Munich plan to extend Pep Guardiola’s contract

    Apr 23, 2015, 10:13 PM EDT

    Pep Guardiola, FC Bayern Munich Pep Guardiola, FC Bayern Munich

    Hands off our Pep, Man City. Bayern exec says Guardiola is going nowhere.

  18. Fuel on the fire — Sporting KC’s Feilhaber says “I’ve never liked Real Salt Lake”

    Apr 23, 2015, 9:17 PM EDT

    Benny Feilhaber, Sporting KC & Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake Getty Images

    Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake is inching ever closer to Most Hated Rivalry in MLS.

  19. Could Chelsea call upon 17-year-old striker Dominic Solanke to start against Arsenal?

    Apr 23, 2015, 7:21 PM EDT

    Dominic Solanke, Chelsea FC Getty Images

    It’s the biggest game of Chelsea’s season, and Mourinho might have to start a 17-year-old at striker.

Featured video

Should Chelsea be more entertaining?