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Any Sunderland escapology act this season will be little short of a miracle | Barry Glendenning

Sunderland’s manager will carry the can for the glacier quick burst out of the blocks, but this is a club that appears dysfunctional from the boardroom down

It is over 43 years since an overjoyed Bob Stokoe raced, arms outstretched, across the Wembley sward to celebrate one of the great FA Cup upsets. Second division side Sunderland had just slain the mighty Leeds team featuring Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter and Johnny Giles to win the 1973 final and their manager, looking faintly ridiculous in a brown raincoat, red tracksuit bottoms and trademark trilby, was rushing to embrace his goalkeeper Jim Montgomery. The iconic “Stokoe run” has since been cast in bronze and erected on a concourse outside the Stadium of Light as a reminder of happier times. Given his pose, those unfamiliar with its context could be forgiven for thinking the club’s former manager is fleeing in terror from the apocalyptically awful performances of the players who currently call the ground behind his statue home.

Defeat at the hands of Arsenal on Saturday mean Sunderland have now broken one-time sultans of slapstick Manchester City’s record for the worst start in Premier League history after 10 matches. They remain on course to break Derby County’s unwanted record of the lowest tally of points amassed in a single season. If anything, they are well ahead of schedule: in 2007-08, the Rams were relegated with just 11 but at least managed to conjure up a victory in their first six matches, a feat Sunderland have failed to achieve in any of the past four seasons. They have now gone 10 without a win in the current campaign and even a club renowned for its implausible last-ditch feats of escapology will do well to emulate the 17th place with which they secured their Premier League status last season.

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