One of the most memorable seasons I have experienced as a Sunderland fan has passed, a cup final and a relegation battle that has potentially made history and we did it all actually trying to play 'good' football. Those things aside we have to remember that although exciting we shouldn't want our proudest achievement in the league to be "At least we showed fight all the way through the season"
When we appointed De Fanti earlier last year no one in football really knew a lot about the mystery man other than bits of work he had done for clubs in Italy and that he was an agent and he had previously worked with the new chief scout Valentino Angeloni.
A new, exciting time was ahead for Sunderland fans with promises from derby hero Paolo Di Canio saying the squad would see a major overhaul, music to Sunderland fan's ears after watching the gutless dross that was displayed before us throughout the 2012-2013 season.
No less than fourteen signings later, some youth some first team the new Sunderland squad was discovered to be lackluster to say the least only a few promising faces had emerged at the start of the season including Emanuele Giaccherini and Vito Mannone though he was behind Kieran Westwood in the pecking order at the time.
However, there was still much upheaval in the squad due to the exclusion of Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole both of who Di Canio just decided weren't part of his plans due to their lifestyles and ability.
This in my opinion was mistake number one, both of these players had been at the club for a few years previous to Di Canio and had both worn the captains armband at different points, they had respect from the players that were at the club previously.
Di Canio thought letting them sit in the reserves away from even the bench would somehow help find them a new club hastily, despite their stock dropping every game they didn't feature especially when Phil Bardsley had broken his ankle in an U21 friendly before the start of the season.
Not only was Di Canio losing the club some assets he was affecting the dressing room and with every dropped point that came leading up to his dismissal he was losing the dressing room. We cannot say for sure what was happening behind closed doors, but you could tell whatever he was shouting or screaming wasn't working the way it did when he first arrived at the Stadium of Light.
This all coupling with the fact the mystery signings were turning out to be somewhat duds this was before Fabio Borini has been given a real chance and Ki Seung Yeung was the only one showing consistency in the side. The new players didn't look to have the pace of strength for the Premier League a worrying analysis considering we didn't want a repeat of the previous season in a relegation battle.
What could have helped the squad? I think a longer preseason with more games other than just fitness routines repeated over and over the players had looked to have lost weight and some did look sharper, however, there did not seem to be a game plan much of it noticeable in the final third where many players were just shooting or making the wrong pass.
However, with many players being out of contract and only Seb Larsson and Jack Colback looking worthy of new deals there is no way we can avoid buying an abundance of new player especially considering the amount we had loaned.
I think it goes without saying to avoid the same situation we need players who have played in the Premier League previously or have at least some English football experience I think with Lee Congerton we can expect some dealings from the Bundesliga, but looking at the style that is played in Germany they could fit into the English league quite well.
Poyet also needs to drill his system into the new players which would be helped with many preseason games that are actually professional teams instead of some non league Italian team. I also think it goes without saying is some players need another chance. We cannot ship off every flop we have signed just because of the amount we are potentially losing so this means Jozy Altidore, I think needs another go you can see he has struggled though perhaps with an improved midfield he could get a goal scoring touch that is needed from him.
We also need to make sure Connor Wickham is handed a new deal after the out of contract players have been dealt with. The Steve Bruce signing looked as though he was just being shipped off loan after loan to help boost his reputation for a potential transfer into the championship, but with Poyet running out of ideas he took a chance on Wickham and he turned our season around.
It isn't just the Di Fanti regime we need to learn from, but also O'Neill and Bruce. We need to avoid signing players from relegated teams it just hasn't worked for us in the past and although better financially paying £6 million for Craig Gardner shows why we are now using a Director of Football in the first place.
It has been said the last few seasons and I genuinely cannot wait to see what this summer brings in terms of players and Poyet's system I am hoping we can finally reach the mid table and stay in the league comfortably without thinking we are down until a miracle happens.