Sam Allardyce has every right to be licking his lips ahead of Sunderland’s visit to the Boleyn Ground for the teatime kick off this Saturday.
The Irons are 17/20 to down a Black Cats outfit that were seemingly involved in some kind of matchday 29 suicide pact with QPR last time out.
As bad as the R’s were against Crystal Palace, shipping three before the break, the Wearsiders were worse, giving up four goals to previously-toothless travellers Aston Villa before the half-time oranges.
Yet, while the West Ham boss may anticipate an end to his charges’ eight-match winless sequence thanks to their hapless visitors, he would be reckoning without a time-honoured trend – the period of grace that seems to accompany any new Sunderland manager in their early games in the Stadium of Light hotseat.
New boss Dick Advocaat can rest assured the Black Cats’ miserable version of equilibrium will return soon enough, but not before a few wins have come his way.
Martin O’Neill, Gus Poyet and even Paolo Di Canio have experienced post-appointment surges in recent seasons, suggesting backing the visitors to win at 7/2 is not as foolish at it seems.
The Uruguayan may have been hammered 4-1 by Swansea in his first game in charge, but his side went on to win three of their next five, including a victory over Manchester City.
His infamous predecessor was exposed as something of a managerial charlatan in time, but not before keeping the Wearsiders up with a brace of wins and as many draws in his first six matches.
O’Neill enjoyed an even better reaction when he arrived just before New Year 2012, triumphing in no fewer than four of his opening quintet.
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