It wasn't revolution after all, it was evolution
Paolo Di Canio's talk of a 'revolution' dominated the summer headlines and early season narrative, but it didn't materialise. Obviously, him getting the boot early played a big part in that, but in the end Di Canio changed nothing about Sunderland.
Gus Poyet, at times, appeared to be trying to go down the same route as he tried to graft his own footballing identity onto the team before there looked to be a total rejection of it after the cup final. It all seemed to come together in the end, though.
Now, looking back, it seems that Poyet affected evolution at Sunderland rather than revolution. Most of the key players in the season - Lee Cattermole, Jack Colback, Seb Larsson, Adam Johnson, Connor Wickham, Wes Brown etc - were existing members of the squad and were just managed and fine-tuned rather than just dumped.
It leads to the question of just how many changes are required this summer after all. It may just be a case of keeping hold of the above players and complimenting them with an injection of real quality rather than replacing them with quantity.
Deja vu with bells on
That was absolutely mental. The best of all bad seasons. A team that breaks your heart so consistently, takes you to the brink of despair and then tries to lure you back in with the footballing equivalent of sexy text messages. You try your best not to succumb, but you know fine well that you're going to wake up the next morning, with a sore head, in bed with Seb Larsson.
I was sure I wanted rid of most of the squad. Wickham was on the list. So was Larsson and Colback. Vergini was a write off and so on. But they turned it around and I don't even think Gus Poyet is entirely sure how. Now it's a case of do we keep a few of the out of contract lads and build around them, or go for a complete overhaul and hope we get it right. A month ago I would have been totally in favour of the latter. Now, it's most certainly the former.
Paolo Di Canio seems like an eternity ago, and thank goodness. It's amazing to think that actually happened. Where he talked about getting passion, desire, quality and cup finals out of this squad, Gus went and did it.
It's been an incredible season and I probably wouldn't have had it any other way. If I could, I'd erase three minutes of the Capital One Cup Final. You know which bit.
Masters of our own downfall
We conceded seven own goals this season. SEVEN. As if to compound what a bizarre term it was, helping out the opposition on so many occasions didn't exactly do us any favours either. Strangely enough this ridiculous sum was not enough to see us top that particular table as Championship-chasing Liverpool also managed to bag seven OG's as well, and that's a Liverpool side without Jamie Carragher who, coincidentally managed seven own goals in his career.
Seven seems to be the "magic number", or maybe not, as that is also the number of red cards that Sunderland accumulated over the course of the season - this, of course, being a record, so there's something to brag about I guess, or remember for a future obscure sports quiz in fifteen years time.
One can only imagine how different certain games may have panned out if we hadn't have been so "generous" to the opposition.
It's a long old season...
If there is one thing I've learned this season, it's just how long a Premier League season is.
It sounds so innocuous. "38 games". Thinking back to those early Di Canio games seems a lifetime ago, though. It feels like a different club entirely.
I remember hearing from fans back then saying that if we didn't win such and such game we'd be down or if we didn't win some other game we'd might as well give up. In fairness, by the time most had given up after West Ham at home, there was STILL enough time to turn it around.
Football seasons are long.