Be more disciplined
Last season Sunderland topped the league with the most red cards (7) with Wes Brown receiving 3 of them. Red cards cost points, and that was the case last term as 6 points were given to Hull through cheap dismissals as well as dropping points at Stoke and Crystal Palace. Add those points up and we could have finished 10th.
Additionally, Sunderland needs to be smarter when fouling. Why leave it to the last man to get sent off when you can stop the attack on half way? Cheap and harmless fouls break up play and give the defence time to get organised and more often than not go unpunished.
Be more ruthless in front of goal
Last season the Black Cats scored 41 goals in the Premiership, just averaging little over a goal a game. This is the stat that will need to change if Sunderland are to break into the top half. Teams like Stoke and Swansea scored more, even West Brom scored two more. A lack of cutting edge in front of goal was evident last year and this was shown by the fact that Adam Johnson was the top scorer in the league. A fit again Steven Fletcher and a confident Conner Wickham should sort out all our goal scoring problems!
Make the SoL a fortress
Home form has been an issue for Sunderland in recent seasons, especially last season as the Black Cats finished 19th in the home table only above relegated Fulham. This is a glaring statistic which will undoubtedly need to improve this season. Only five home league wins all of last term isn’t good enough. The team needs to get the SoL rocking again, because on their day, Sunderland can beat anyone - as they showed against Manchester City over the last four seasons.
More urgency in attack
With the new mentality that full backs are the new wingers, Sunderland need to exploit that. The transfer business in bring Van Aanholt and Jones in shows that Gus has this in mind. All too often last season Adam Johnson was doubled up on the wings leaving him little option but to pass backwards or sideways, this will change this year as the full backs will overlap to create space for Johnson. A proper box to box midfielder in Jack Rodwell adds impetus to the central attack, leaving Cattermole to plug the gaps.
You won’t always score after 10 minutes, you might not score at all, but the one thing Sunderland players and fans have to be is patient. The style of play Gus Poyet wants to implement is a controlled passing game. This style takes time to develop on the pitch as it starts from the back four through to the midfielders who should supply the front three. In the long run it benefits everyone; after all it is called the beautiful game. All too often when a team needs a goal they abandon their plans and start to play hoof ball, this won’t happen with Poyet’s team. It might be frustrating at first but it’s better in the long run.