According to Wes Brown, the bulk of the training in Portugal has been all about teaching the players how to keep possession in tight areas, equipping them to bring Poyet's clear passing philosophy to life next season. Brown told the Sunderland Echo:
We tried to do that a little bit last season and we've got the start of the season to practice that now.
The gaffer likes to keep the ball and a lot of training sessions are to do with that work.
We sort of showed it at times last season, even though it was different circumstances.
But this season we can start afresh, keep the ball and play the style that the gaffer likes to play.
Speaking of Brown, retirement seems to be the very last thing on his mind. The former England and Manchester United defender will be 35 by the time his current 4-year deal expires next summer, but at the moment at least there are no plans to make this season his swansong in football. He said:
Until these legs drop off, I'll try to play as much as I can. I just want to play as well as I can this season, hopefully stay in the team and then see what happens.
With Wes Brown, his legs falling off has actually looked a possibility at times, so we'll wait and see!
Sunderland are having one of those transfer windows which has so-far been defined by who hasn't arrived rather than who has. Another early reported target appears to be headed elsewhere, with Cardiff City's Jordon Mutch reported to be on the verge of a £5m move to QPR. If true, ah well.