THE CHAMPIONSHIP: McCarthy's magic

The Championship: 2004-05

Mick McCarthy ensured Sunderland returned to the Premier League at the second time of asking in 2005 after they suffered heartbreak in the play-offs one year earlier.

A sad way to end the season, but the Lads responded well in the next campaign and sealed their return to the top flight under McCarthy’s stewardship.

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing as the Black Cats began the season in rocky fashion, winning just one of their opening six matches.

That saw the Lads languishing in mid-table before they gradually climbed to third by the festive period.

McCarthy’s side were unable to progress from that position for a brief period but they managed to win eight straight matches from February and April; a run that gave the Lads the momentum to go on a fine run of form at the perfect time which included just one defeat from 13.

Three successive wins at the end of the campaign saw McCarthy’s side seal the Championship title with 94 points, seven ahead of second-place Wigan Athletic.

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