Sunderland are a surprisingly big price to finish bottom of the Premier League next season.
This is the Sunderland side that, hopefully for the sake of one’s wallet, will kick off the English Premier League without Sam Allardyce at the helm because he will have jumped ship to succeed Roy Hodgson. Sunderland’s English Premier League planning has been thrown into chaos because no-one knows who is going to be managing the Black Cats when they play title favourite Manchester City at Etihad Stadium on Saturday 13 August. The odds are, though, that it will not be Allardyce shaking hands with Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola with the eyes of the world watching.
Allardyce took a Sunderland team that had an English Premier League record of 0-3-5 and little chance of staving off the dreaded drop before his arrival in early October and steered the Black Cats to overall numbers of 9-12-17, sufficient for safety. Sunderland collected 36 points from its 30 English Premier League matches under Allardyce, which works out as the equivalent of 45 points from 38 games. Forty-five points would have placed Sunderland alongside 13th-placed Watford on the English Premier League ladder, nearly three wins clear of the third and final relegation spot. Sunderland overachieved after Allardyce breezed into the Stadium of Light and one fears for the Black Cats if Big Sam exits.
One had to refresh one’s browser at least a couple of times before believing that several bookmakers, including Bet365, BetVictor and Unibet, are offering odds of +1200 about Sunderland running last in the English Premier League.
And English Premier League history is against Sunderland, which ended last season in 17th position. Aston Villa went from finishing 17th in the 2014-2015 English Premier League to picking up the 2015-2016 top-flight wooden spoon. Four of the last six English Premier League cellar dwellers went from 17th to 20th, a feat that Sunderland pulled off itself over the course of the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 campaigns.
One can understand why Burnley and Hull are vying for the unwanted honour of being the English Premier League wooden spoon favourite. Burnley is back in the English Premier League after taking out the English Championship but one thinks that it is significant that Joey Barton, the enfant terrible of British football, has quit the Clarets for Rangers even though he was their best player last term. Hull, whose boss Steve Bruce is in the England mix along with Allardyce, returned to the English Premier League via the English Championship play-offs and three of them have filled the top flight’s bottom spot in the last 10 seasons.
Dutching Burnley, Hull and Sunderland at odds of +350 , +350 and +1200 respectively with Bet365, Betfred and Totesport generates a three-pronged English Premier League wooden spoon wager at -109 . That is the smart way to play if one does not mind betting at odds on and waiting 10 months to collect. But one thinks that Sunderland is hugely overpriced at +1200 because, in the current circumstances, the Black Cats should be shorter in the English Premier League wooden spoon market than Middlesbrough, Watford and West Bromwich.
Back Sunderland to earn its third English Premier League wooden spoon and, at the very least, your bet should present trading opportunities. Sunderland is likely to shorten to occupy the English Premier League cellar if Allardyce gets the green light to replace Hodgson and the Black Cats have a tough start with Manchester City (away), Middlesbrough (home), Southampton (away), Everton (home) and Tottenham (away) being their first five divisional fixtures.
Sunderland to finish bottom of the Premier League