Advocaat in, but Sunderland still in serious danger
Sunderland are in the midst of one of their worst BPL runs of the season, and for how bad of a season the Black Cats are having, that’s saying something. They have not won a BPL game since the final day of January, and with an international break next weekend, the Black Cats will finish March without winning a game for the second straight month. The string of poor results has dropped Sunderland to 17th in the table, only one point out of the relegation zone. With a league-low four wins on the season and after an ugly 4-0 home loss to Aston Villa, the Black Cats had seen enough and fired manager Gus Poyet — who had been at Sunderland for more than a year — replacing him with Dick Advocaat, the well-renowned Dutch coach. Advocaat’s duties begin immediately, as he has nine games to save the Black Cats from disaster. His first foray into the BPL was a failure, however, as Sunderland lost in disappointing fashion, 1-0, to a West Ham side that had secured just two points in its previous five BPL games. The Black Cats played
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Hattrick hero Harry Kane’s rapid rise to English stardom
At the start of the year, Harry Kane was many people’s third-choice forward for Tottenham Hotspur, behind Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor, but the BPL starlet has risen to power this year, now topping the scoring charts (with Diego Costa) following matchday 30. At the beginning of the year, new manager Mauricio Pochettino was using Kane as a Europa League starter and a semi-frequent BPL sub. Kane was in stellar form in Europe, scoring five goals in the group stage and ultimately giving Pochettino little choice but to start him domestically. Kane didn’t start a BPL game until mid-November and only had one Premiership goal at that point – an 89th minute winner against Aston Villa – but the youngster needed little time to make good on his chance to start. After using the month of November to get fully used to life in the BPL, Kane had a coming out party in December, scoring three goals that month to lead in to the game that would
A case of mistaken identity
Red cards are a hazard of soccer, but this week, West Brom defender Gareth McAuley was given his marching orders just over a minute into his team’s fixture against Manchester City for a foul he did not commit. McAuley was responsible for architecting West Brom’s first minute demise by playing an atrocious back pass towards keeper Boaz Myhill, as the pass was easily intercepted by Wilfried Bony, but it was Craig Dawson who took Bony down from behind to stop his free run at goal. After the foul was given, McAuley and Bony had a little tangling in the box, potentially confusing referee Neil Swarbrick, who incorrectly sent McAuley to showers. The West Brom man was confused at the decision, but in reality, it didn’t matter who was getting sent off, West Brom were down a man just two minutes into the game against the second-place team in the league, and the mountain was impossible to climb. The foul was outside the area and City did not score on the resulting free kick, but with West Brom down to 10 men, the result was never in doubt. City cruised to a 3-0 win, with goals from Wilfried Bony, Fernando and David Silva to keep them in second place in the BPL for at least two more weeks (darn you, international break).