It is safe to say with one week to go until the start of the season we have probably enough information to make an educated prediction on the possibilities for SAFC during the coming season.
The first thing we need to ask ourselves is what is a "realistic" expectacion?
We are not going to assume we have the ability to win or even challenge for the title and should discount finishing within the top 6. Now having brought in a lot of new faces over the summer and still possibly a few to come in, most people not associated with SAFC have said it's too big a change and we are simply mirroring the same blueprint that QPR employed (and look at them).
Well we have to respect their opinion because until we have played maybe 3 or 4 games of the season we will be unable to judge how well the team have bonded over the summer.
On the other hand the quality of players we have signed would indicate that the team is vastly improved and should go on to better things. Now we have to take into consideration that other teams that were in and around us last season have also made some big improvements. The likes of Norwich and Stoke have made some good signings and with Taraabt signing for Fulham he may just be the man to unlock even more goals for Berbatov.
That said i still believe we have stolen a march on the majority of teams which should reward us with a better position in the table come the end of the season. I for one am going to keep my expectations relatively low. Any sort of progress is still progress and with the new structure being built for the future this is the least we should expect.
I would expect us to make some good progress in the cup competitions but I wont be too disappointed if we don't. The league is our bread and butter and thats where we should concentrate. Most fans outlay a top ten spot and finishing above "them from up the road" as their expectations and until this season that was probably a bit of an ask.
Now the entire club seems to have been invigorated from top to bottom and the new "shiney" Sunderland is sure to please fans. I predict that we should be looking to finish in the region of 8th-10th this season. Despite adding a few new players I think west ham are taking a few step backwards, Southampton haven't added massively and are still relatively a championship side; the promoted sides I believe are going to struggle because of the growing strength of premier league teams.
Liverpool could slide down into the midtable battle and i don't think Suarez will play for them again. Of course these are entirely my own views but they have been based on displays over preseason, the quality of signings in contrast to other teams and the management infrastructure.
One thing for certain I will say is we should definitely finish above Newcastle, I think they are going to struggle this season due to the exact opposite reasons why we will do well. I have put my money where my mouth is by waging £50 on it so i guess by the end of the season you will all know how that turned out.
I'd like to take this moment to wish all fans the best for the coming season and I hope you aren't disappointed.