How Have We Fared?
May was an incredible month for Sunderland, a month in which we not only secured survival but we beat the likes of Chelsea and Everton along the way in front of packed houses at the Stadium of Light.
Perhaps the most important win of the season was over Gus Hiddink's men, where Sunderland came from behind to beat the 2014/2015 Champions and put ourselves firmly in the driving seat when it came to Premier League survival. Every Sunderland player put every ounce of sweat into winning the game that day, and the atmosphere at the Stadium of Light was on another level.
The good feeling from the Chelsea victory was carried into the midweek home game against Everton, where Sunderland scored three goals and secured our status as a top flight club, relegating both Newcastle and Norwich in the process. As far as surviving by the skin of your teeth goes, that is probably just about the best way to do it. Sunderland have been organised and threatening since the beginning of February and for those of us who have watched The Lads since that time, the Everton result didn't really come as a surprise.
Rounding the season of was an away draw at Watford in a game that we would have won if it wasn't for poor officiating. Despite going ahead twice, Watford were rewarded with a controversial penalty towards the end of the match, which Troy Deeney despatched with ease. Before that, though, Sunderland had goals from Duncan Watmore and Dame N'Doye wrongly chalked off for offside - it's a good job the match didn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things.
All in all it was an absolutely brilliant month for the club. We went unbeaten, took seven points from nine, gave game time to almost every fit player available, secured survival with a game to spare, won twice at home and sent the mags down. It doesn't get much better, does it?
Who Were The Reader's Picks?
After each game we post a player ratings article and at the end we ask our readers to vote on who they think the man of the match was.
Chelsea was an absolutely massive game for the club, and it was fitting that it will perhaps be remembered best for an absolute wonderstrike from Wahbi Khazri which leveled the match at 1-1. Not only did Khazri score a goal of absolutely unreal quality, but he grafted his arse off and the Roker Report readers recognised this, with the Tunisian collecting 648 votes to earn man of the match.
Despite two goals coming from Lamine Kone against Everton it was his defensive partner Younes Kaboul that was voted man of the match, earning 886 votes - a massive 50% share overall. Kaboul marshalled the back line perfectly whilst never giving 'world class' Romelu Lukaku a sniff - since his return to fitness Kaboul has played an absolutely immense part in our survival and if we keep him fit next season he'll be a huge part of our plans going forward.
Sam Allardyce made nine changes to his side for the Watford game and it gave some of Sunderland's fringe players a chance to shine, and they did just that. In perhaps our closest man of the match poll of the season, Jeremain Lens came out on top but only just, edging Duncan Watmore by ten votes. Whether Lens stays next season or not is up for debate, but his performance against Watford was a timely reminder that he is indeed very talented.
Who Has Had A Bad Month?
Well... nobody, really. John O'Shea was pretty awful against Watford but in his appearances against Chelsea and Everton he did fairly well.
It's hard to pick out anyone that had a particularly bad month, because nobody did. Not even Dame N'Doye!
Who Has Had A Good Month?
Yann M'Vila, Jermain Defoe and Wahbi Khazri all had an outstanding month and all three played a huge part in ensuring Sunderland's survival, all scoring an average of 8.0 for May in the player ratings.
M'Vila showed us yet again just why we have to make it a priority to sign him on a permanent basis, whilst Defoe's goal against Chelsea which secured the three points will go down in history, I feel.
Wahbi Khazri scored an absolute screamer against Chelsea and won man of the match, and against Everton his set pieces caused havoc and presented Sunderland with two goals.
Player Of The Month - Younes Kaboul - 8.5
Much like last month we had a tie with the player ratings scores and as a result we hosted a poll last night for only one hour on Twitter to allow our readers to decide which of Younes Kaboul and Vito Mannone - who both scored 8.5 for May - was our player of the month.
Ok guys, we have a tie again for player of the month. Help us out.— Roker Report (@RokerReport) 22 May 2016
(We played Chelsea, Everton & Watford) #SAFC
Kaboul was a clear winner, and Mannone can feel pretty unlucky to have not won as his showings, particularly against Chelsea, were very good and a vast improvement on what we've seen since he replaced Costel Pantilimon as our number one in January.
Kaboul was an absolute monster against Chelsea and was even better against Everton, and you have to feel that if we can continue to keep him fit we will see far more return than we ever expected when we paid Tottenham Hotspur two million pounds for his services in the summer. Alongside Lamine Kone we have stumbled upon a top class defensive pairing and it's absolutely vital that we keep them together next season.
Well done, Younes!