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Roker Report Predicts... Part Two

We continue our build up to the big kick off with another round of predictions from our Roker Report writers.

Ian MacNicol

Karl Jones

Rate The Summer: For the first time in a while, Sunderland have had a plan going into this season. Summer upheavals have been commonplace since we returned to the Premier League but Paolo Di Canio and those above him have made changes, and implemented them early enough to give them the best possible chance of influencing Sunderland's season in a positive way.

As is par for the course with Sunderland, Di Canio has found it difficult adding a full-back or two to his ranks, but that looks like it will change with the arrival of Ondrej Celustka. So far: encouraging. 8/10

Best Signing: Emmanuele Giaccherini. Whilst he has a pretty decent support cast, it looks as if he'll be key to our chances this season.

Minimum Requirement: Without sounding like a football snob, to play a bit better. There were only seven games last season in which Sunderland scored more than one goal. As a result, the routine of football was largely agonising and deflating - save for a monstrous derby performance at St. James' Park. Hopefully there'll be a few more chances for Paolo to knee-slide his way through life next season.

Realistic Success: Top half. I say this almost every summer, and there are a handful of clubs who will be looking to replicate what West Bromwich Albion did last season, but there is no clear reason why Sunderland can't be one of those. For the first time in years, there's an element of uncertainty to Everton due to the change in manager, which might open things up.

Predicted Position: 9th

Watch Out For...: I'm more hopeful than expectant of Wes Brown's return on a semi-regular basis, so that will have to be a sub-sub-plot.

David Moberg-Karlsson has arrived without the pressure of a big price tag or joining from a big club, so it's only fair that I put some on him. Early impressions of him are encouraging; his touch is good and he's very lively in and around the penalty area. Scandinavia may have produced another baby-faced assassin.

Top Four (in order): Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur
FA Cup: Manchester United
League Cup: Arsenal
Relegated: Crystal Palace, Hull City, Stoke City

Andy Tomlinson

Rate The Summer: Disappointing to lose Mignolet but we've improved strength in depth in key positions. Central defence in particular looks far stronger. If we can get the midfielder playmaker and left back it could push the score to 8 or 9/10. As we stand, 6/10.

Best Signing: As much as Giaccherini will be a crowd favourite, Jozy Altidore has to step up and prove he's a better player than last time he was in the Premier League and I believe be will thrive with Giak and Johnson supplying him.

Minimum Requirement: For Di Canio to get the team to play how he said they would. So 100% effort for every minute of the game and also to try and win every single game.

Realistic Success: Looking at how close everyone bar the top 8 are, we have to be aiming to finish in the top 10. While having a go in both cup competitions.

Predicted Position: 10th.

Watch Out For...: I'll put my neck on the line here and go for a couple of young lads making a surprising push into the first team squad. Martin Smith would be the first one and I think we may see Lynden Gooch kick on with the influence of a big name American international in the first team.

Top Four (in order): Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, Man Utd
FA Cup: Man Utd
League Cup: Sunderland
Relegated: Hull, Cardiff, Crystal Palace

Luke Bowley

Rate The Summer: In what has been comfortably the most exciting summer in recent memory, Sunderland have thrown away the usual rules, and looked abroad for cheap talent through such innovative techniques as scouting and developing contacts. Just a few months ago no-one would have expected the club to be in the position to sign an Italian international still in his prime, and that transfer announced the arrival of a new Sunderland, rising out of mediocrity.

The work isn't quite done though, and until we sign the three players we need and shift Phil Bardsley out through the back door, then this squad will still have obvious gaps in it. 7/10

Best Signing: Cabral: While Emanuele Giaccherini is certainly the most exciting signing Sunderland have made this summer, it's Cape Verdean midfielder Cabral that was the most crucial. The Black Cats desperately lacked physicality in the middle last season and Cabral's strength, combined with his technical ability, could see him become one of the bargains of the season.

To sign a gifted player with experience in the Champions League on a free shows the good work the club's new regime have achieved in the transfer market.

Minimum requirement: Quite frankly I'm bored of relegation battles, and could do without one this season. Staying just above a dogfight, and being clear of danger by March/April time would represents an adequate season.

Realistic success: It's important we get off to a good start this season, as poor starts to the last two campaigns have cost us. If we do that, we're certainly capable of a top 10 finish. A European place will prove to be a step too far, but if we can finish in that 8th-12th area, and have a good cup run alongside it, that would be very good progress indeed.

Predicted Position: 9th

Watch out for: Jiiiiiiiiiii: After a very successful loan spell in Germany, Ji Dong Won returns to Wearside with a new manager and a fresh start. One glorious moment aside, the Korean striker has found life in the Premier League hard, but with Steven Fletcher out injured, and with the club lacking cover for Giaccherini on the left hand side, Ji might find more opportunities for himself in the first team.

Lack of pre-season action may count against him, but it's believe the new coaching staff are huge fans of Ji, and this could be the season he breaks out and delivers on his early promise.

Top Four (in order): Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester Utd, Tottenham
FA Cup: Chelsea
League Cup: Manchester City
Relegated: Hull, Stoke, Crystal Palace

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