FourFourTwo and Forza Football have surveyed 200,000 fans of Premier League clubs to gauge their confidence in their team's manager, players and chairman/owner. Here, Nick Harper picks through the findings to see how Sunderland fans' mood has changed over the season...
Forget what the confidence ratings said at the start of the season for Sunderland, let’s skip to the numbers that came up straight after the 8-0 humiliation at Southampton, for they should be most telling.
In the immediate aftermath of that sorry afternoon, confidence in Gus Poyet as a manager sat at 64% among Sunderland fans, while his squad was down to 54%. Low, but not as low as things would go. The following weekend, having gift-wrapped Arsenal two winning goals at the Big Top of Light, confidence in Poyet dropped still further, to 48%, while confidence in his squad fell to 34%.
A win at Crystal Palace and a draw at home to Everton in their last two matches has lifted confidence levels again (Poyet is now up to 66%, his squad up to 45%), which seems to reflect where Mackem fans lay the blame this season.
At the start of the season, confidence in Poyet was 86%, but only 60% for his squad, so clearly the man is being cut some slack and has credit in the bank after last season’s unlikely escape, and for simply not being Paolo Di Canio.
Given the squad at his disposal – even if many of them are his signings – and given their propensity for spectacular own goals and self-inflicted calamity, Poyet has a tough job on his hands. Wish him well, then. He seems a nice man.