Premier League Countdown - Sunderland
Football.co.uk continues its club-by-club countdown to the start of the of the new Premier League season with a look at Sunderland.
Last season - 13th
After installing Steve Bruce at the helm during the summer, Sunderland began the new season in excellent form.
Home wins over Liverpool and Arsenal proved to be the highlight, before a terrible winless run of 14 games took them dangerously close to the relegation zone.
The goals of new signing Darren Bent proved pivotal as they improved towards the end of the campaign, eventually pulling well clear of the bottom three.
In Marcos Angeleri (Undisclosed, Estudiantes), Titus Bramble (Undisclosed, Wigan Athletic), Ahmed Al-Muhammadi (Loan, ENPPI Club), Simon Mignolet (Undisclosed, St. Truidense VV), Christian Riveros (Undisclosed, Cruz Azul)
Out Daryl Murphy (£1.5m, Celtic), Lorik Cana (£5m, Galatasaray), Roy O'Donovan (Free, Coventry City)
Player to watch Darren Bent
After signing for Sunderland in a club record £10 million deal from Tottenham last summer, Bent had a fantastic debut season in the north-east.
His return of 24 goals helped secure the club's Premier League status but failed to convince Fabio Capello he was worthy of a place in England's World Cup squad.
The former Charlton striker's pace and natural finishing ability will be vital if Steve Bruce's side are to progress this year.
Sunderland have the foundations of a good team in place but still lack quality in certain areas of the pitch.
Another central defender is a must, as is a creative central midfielder to sit alongside Lee Cattermole.
If Bruce makes these additions and Darren Bent recaptures his form of last season then they could push towards the top ten.
Prediction - 12th
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