Newcastle may have finished higher last term, but Sunderland have the gift of momentum on their side and the benefits of a fresh start could well see them pip the Magpies in a match bet for the 2013/14 Premier League campaign.
The battle for North East bragging rights went to the wire last term, with Newcastle coming out on top by just two points and the sides occupying the final two places guaranteeing safety.
As a result Sunderland’s 5/4 outsider status in their match bet for the coming campaign seems a little generous given their rivals are priced up at 4/7.
That the Magpies failed to match the stellar heights of the 2011/12 season – in which they finished fifth in the league – was understandable, but just how abject their failure to build on that campaign was came as a shock nonetheless.
Sunderland fans will have been as surprised just to stay up given the lack of identity with which they played under Martin O’Neill.
Paolo Di Canio managed to get enough out of his existing players to keep the side up and having done so has set rebuilding his squad bringing seven new signings so far.
Amongst them the likes of David Moberg Karlsson, Cabral and Emanuele Giaccherini have already impressed, but perhaps equally important as these acquisitions is the marginalisation or sale of players like Titus Bramble or Lee Cattermole, who have been such unconvincing first-teamers in recent campaigns.
With senior players like Craig Gardner and Sebastian Larsson reportedly relishing the daily double-sessions of pre-season training the Italian has put in place, Sunderland should be fitter, sharper and more motivated ahead of the new season.
Viewed against this optimistic outlook, the situation at St James’ Park looks a little more stagnant, with the five January signings brought in to relieve the Europa League squad-strain not ultimately able to snap the Magpies out of their apathetic end to the campaign.
Alan Pardew has been keen to stress the need for more arrivals, yet despite the controversial appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football there have been no additions this summer.
With a highly capable squad Newcastle underachieved last season and the difficulty in pinpointing the root-cause of their malaise merely makes it less likely that they will be able to cure their 2012/13 affliction in the new season.
Sunderland meanwhile have no choice but to move forward with a new sense of purpose and they’re 6/5 to begin 2013/14 with victory against Fulham.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.