Rate The Summer: Whilst we're still (at time of writing) short a few fullbacks, and the likes of Phil Bardsley and David Vaughan are still on the books, I'd say this has been a very, VERY, good summer for us.
I've been most impressed with some of the cheaper signings too. Cabral looks everything Lee Cattermole wanted to be, Roberge elegant in defence while Ba and Karlsson also very intriguing.
Giaccherini is merely the icing on the cake, and should be huge for us in that in every sense, from skill to mannerisms he looks like Steed Malbranque, except he can last 90 minutes, and score. 8/10
Best Signing: As things stand, the best signing has to be Cabral. While Giaccherini has more pedigree, Cabral has been very impressive.
He manages to break up play superbly, without having to be dirty in doing so, while he also seems able to pick a pass too.
He's a cut above what we already had on the books.
Minimum Requirement: The minimum has to be a very boring and safe 12th or so, with little regard for the cups. Again, this is the least I'll take with so much upheaval.
Realistic Success: Same as every year for me. Top ten finish, with anything in the cup a bonus.
Predicted Position: 9th.
Watch Out For...: El Hadji Ba. Leaving aside his complete mentalness on Twitter, he looks a very interesting prospect.
I don't really know what I'd do with him, and he's not ready to start but he is only one injury away from doing so.
By the end of the season, I've a feeling that the coaching staff will have worked him out and he'll be a regular starter.
Top Four (in order): Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal
FA Cup: Chelsea
League Cup: Arsenal
Relegated: Hull City Tigers, Crystal Palace, Cardiff City.
Rate The Summer: Our transfer business (thus far) has been top notch, with the club adopting a new, smart, and thoroughly modern approach to the transfer market by going down the Director of Football route. Performances have mostly been good as well; the few marks are lost because (so far) we still need at least 3 players in (CM, both FBs), and as we've only played three "open" friendlies I haven't actually seen that much of us... 7/10.
Best Signing: Emmanuele Giaccherini: He's an Italian international! He scored against Brazil over the summer! If that wasn't sufficient evidence, see his beautiful scooped pass to start off Johnson's goal against FC Danish-team. He's been described as a Steed that tracks back, imagine how great that will be. IMAGINE IT.
Minimum Requirement: Mid-table mediocrity. I just can't take another season of scrapping to our lives up until the final dregs of the season. At the end of last year I was wildly celebrating as Arsenal actually managed to pull their finger out and stuff Wigan - that's no way to live.
Realistic Success: A solid but uninspiring finish in the middle of table, without a fight against relegation, and an actual decent cup run. It'd be great if we could actually get to the semi-finals or perhaps even further. Swansea, Wigan, Millwall, Bradford and Villa all made it to a cup semi last season, so surely we should be capable of equaling that at the least?
Predicted Position: 11th.
Watch Out For...: Valentin Roberge. A CB who can actually use the ball well when it's at his feet, if he gets a consistent run we could really see the difference in the effectiveness of the whole team's use of the ball.
Top Four (in order): Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Spurs
FA Cup: Sunderland
League Cup: Everton
Relegated: Fulham, Crystal Palace, Hull City Tigers and Other Assorted Animals
Rate The Summer: So far, 6/10. Giacherrini looks a real coup and as refreshing as it is see to see the squad completely overhauled, as things stand we're still a pair of full backs and a central midfielder away from having a proper starting XI. They'd push it up to an 8, had they arrived, but until they do some areas of the squad are still lacking in depth and we are yet to see just how good one or two of the players brought in actually are.
Best Signing: Giaccherini - The fact that we've signed a current Italian international really says it all. Will provide balance, work rate and quality on the left as well as fantastic versatility.
Minimum Requirement: Any improvement on last season would be a start and given how utterly woeful we were and how promising things have looked pre-season that should not be an issue. The current project the club seem to have in place appears to be one with the long term very much in mind so a couple of decent cup runs allied to a solid, relegation battle free league season would suffice.
Realistic Success: There is absolutely no reason Sunderland cannot go and win one of the two cups next season considering who picked up silverware last season.
Predicted Position: 11th
Watch Out For...: David Moberg-Karlsson making a real impact on the first team after impressing in pre-season. Although he will find himself behind more illustrious names in the pecking order, he is an injury or two away from being a starter and given Adam Johnson's penchant for lasting 60-70 minutes during a game, likely to play his fair share of minutes from the bench.
Top Four(In Order): Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal
FA Cup: Chelsea
League Cup: Everton
Relegated: Fulham, Crystal Palace, Hull City