Close season has fallen upon us and there wont be many happy than our fans at SAFC.
With guaranteed safety and a squad seemingly carrying a lot of "deadwood", Sunderland fans more than any others will be glad to see the back of 2012/13 season. Despite our poor form, managerial upheaval and other assorted behaviour, however, I believe we have a lot to look forward to - not just next season but in those to come.
I will pick up on some key areas that beneath the whirlwind that has been the relegation battle may have been missed, but firstly i will talk about the Sunderland revolution.
Having grown tired of O'Neills constant skipping of training sessions and lazy approach to the day to day managerial duties, Mr Short chose to relieve him of his position and instate a character we are all familiar with.
Whatever critics Paolo Di Canio may have you can not question his professional and realistic approach to his first "top" managerial tenure. Fans may be disappointed how the season ended, but the Italian's contribution should be considered an outstanding one under the circumstances.
Now survival has been assured and the manager has cast his eye over what can only be labelled as a lacklustre side in places, I have complete faith he has identified the exact areas for improvement. Having already lambasted the playboy lifestyle and ignorant behaviour of a some of the players he is beginning to install a work ethic to the team.
In any team there should be an element of merit at earning your place and Di Canio has maybe marked this as a priority. He has also changed the dimension of our gameplay. I along with many fans would not mind defeat as long as we attacked all game and pressed the opponent whilst chasing the game all over the park.
Di Canio understands this and the fact that you wont score goals by sitting back, and goals were unquestionably at a crippling premium last season.
Straying away from Di Canio now an focusing on the players now, Jack Colback has really come to the forefront during the past season. He has already been touted as an integral part of the sunderland team of the future and with his work rate and adaptability I believe he is destined to be a remarkable team captain some day.
I would not be surprised if an England call up was beyond next season even if only for a friendly, but i feel Di Canio needs to give him a permanent central midfield position and this will help his cause.
Since Di Canio's arrival, Stephane Sessegnon has been like a different man. Still the little box of tricks he was before but not as frustrating. The reason being? PDC has managed to squeeze out an end product that wasn't there before.
I know every SAFC fan would watch Sess turn then beat three players before blasting the ball 6yds wide or misplacing a vital pass, but that has all changed. Luckily we have him tied to a contract and hopefully he will carry on this progression and we will have some player on our hands next season.
Lastly I will touch upon Di Canio's promise to improve Fletcher as a striker. When we were linked with Fletcher, I probably along with plenty others was very dubious considering where he was signed from and the fee he carried but how wrong we were.
Fletcher has been a real gem for us and unfortunately became injured when we probably needed him most, but I don't doubt his goals earned us vital points over the course of the season. If the manager can improve this goalscoring machine (and I believe he can) then I don't think we will be lacking in goals next season.
It has become obvious that Danny Graham and Connor Wickham are far from capable of partnering Fletcher so I hope Di Canio's plan comes with a new strike partner. I would generally like to see a creative deep forward in the same mould as Rooney to partner Fletcher but realistically Finbogasson from Heerenveen could be a deal for around the €5m mark and with a high scoring season behind him would make sense.
Obviously with the explosive character of Paolo DI Canio anything could happen but these are things I know for sure and the Sunderland fans who were the happiest to see the back of last season in my opinion will be the most eager to see the start of next.