What can Sunderland learn from their pre-season victory at Rotherham?

It was a narrow win for the Black Cats as their new boss watched on.

What can Sunderland learn from their pre-season victory at Rotherham?
The win makes it two victories from two for Sunderland so far in pre-season. (Photo: Sunderland AFC)

After Sunderland's 2-1 win at the New York Stadium, VAVEL looks at what can be taken from the match as the club progress further with their pre-season plans.

Battle for the gloves looks to continue into season opener

With Jordan Pickford and Vito Mannone both completing 45 minutes in both games against Hartlepool and Rotherham, it appears that it is yet to be decided which goalkeeper will start the season as Sunderland's number one.

Both will be keen to impress new manager David Moyes, who has already seen Pickford play whilst the 22-year-old was on loan at the Scotsman's former side Preston, with this decision one of many on the new manager's hands in the coming weeks.

Mannone of course signed a new contract until 2018 at the beginning of the month, back when Sam Allardyce was still at the helm on Wearside, which could leave the Italian in limbo as to whether he remains the first choice goalkeeper at the club for the 2016/17 season.

Unless Moyes states otherwise prior to the beginning of the season, it appears that fans will have to wait until the season opener at Manchester City to find out which stopper will take the starting spot for the upcoming season.

Under-21s continue their integration into the first-team picture

Over the course of Allardyce's managerial reign at the club, he brought several young players through from the Under-21s, with players such as Duncan Watmore, George Honeyman and Ethan Robson just a few of the names that Sunderland fans began to hear towards the end of the season in regards to the first-team.

Today, fans saw appearances from Josh Robson, Michael Ledger, Rees Greenwood and Lynden Gooch as well as the aforementioned Watmore, Robson and Honeyman. This only shows that the staff at Sunderland are keen to introduce as many young players as possible into the first-team picture, as the club attempts to improve upon the admittedly poor output of Premier League players from the Academy of Light in recent years.

Watmore and Pickford have of course graduated from Under-21 players to fully fledged first-team members over the past season, and their former team-mates from the U21s will hope that they can follow in their footsteps in the not too distant future, with pre-season offering them the perfect opportunity to impress their new manager.

The 53-year-old looked on from the stands at the New York Stadium. (Photo: Sunderland AFC)
The 53-year-old looked on from the stands at the New York Stadium. (Photo: Sunderland AFC)

Charles N'Zogbia impresses in his second outing for the club

With no new signings as of this moment in time, trialist and former Aston Villa midfielder Charles N'Zogbia is currently the closest thing to a new player that Sunderland have, and his performance today will do him no harm as he bids to earn a contract at the club after becoming a free agent in the summer.

N'Zogbia created the opening goal with an accurate lofted ball to Fabio Borini, and secured the win for his side late on with a low drive from the edge of the box as he rounded off a performance that improved vastly upon his showing at Hartlepool.

Of course it is unlikely that any decision will be made in regards to the Frenchman's future soon, with Moyes likely to allow himself time to evaluate the entire squad before deciding whether the 30-year-old is a player that could add depth to his team, but more performances like this and he could find himself a new club sooner than he perhaps expected.

Will Jermain Defoe continue his lone striker role - or will he receive help up top?

Jermain Defoe excelled for Sunderland last season, and his 15 league goals were the main reason that the club stayed in the Premier League at the expense of Newcastle, Norwich and Aston Villa. But will he continue as a lone striker or will Moyes decide to offer the striker some support in attack?

Options already at the club include Borini and Watmore, who can both play as a striker although they currently occupy wide positions in the side, with players such as Wahbi Khazri and Jeremain Lens able to play in the number 10 role if that is an avenue that the new boss wishes to pursue. 

Of course Defoe could remain as a lone striker for another season, with 18 goals in all competitions last season proving that he is certainly effective in the role, or he could even see a new signing join him in attack. Only time will tell, but it is almost certain that Defoe will be one of the first names that Moyes will have on his first Sunderland team sheet against Manchester City on August 13.

David Moyes must settle in quickly - and act fast in the transfer market

With Sunderland currently one of just three teams in the Premier League to have made no new signings since the end of the 2015/16 season, it will come as no shock that one of the first items on the new manager's to-do list will be to recruit some fresh blood.

One man that fans are hopeful of signing on a permanent deal is Yann M'Vila, who has been rather public in his desire to join the club permanently on social media over the summer, but has also been keen to state that it is down to the club whether he returns.

If M'Vila doesn't return to the club, then Moyes will certainly have his eye on filling the gap that the Frenchman has left in Sunderland's midfield after he started 36 games in the Premier League last season.

Another position that requires filling is at full-back, with only Patrick van Aanholt and Billy Jones likely to be at the club by the time the 2016/17 season comes around, unless Moyes plucks Adam Matthews out of the abyss after the Welshman became a forgotten man at the Stadium of Light last season.

It is going to be a busy few weeks for the new man at the helm, but fans will hope that the former Manchester United boss can act fast and get his house in order in time for the new Premier League season.