It’s been a month since last season finished and we find ourselves in the off-season full of optimism about what is to come. As much as I’m excited by the football at Euro 2016, it doesn’t fill the void left by the absence of domestic action.
So all we really have to focus on is transfers in and out of the Stadium of Light.
In the last week or so, Sunderland announced Steve Harper, Wes Brown, Danny Graham and Steven Fletcher are to leave the club. Harper and Brown I personally would have kept because I think they would have been good figures to have behind the scenes and in the dressing room. Graham and Fletcher, however - I agree with letting them go. Their time here was up.
Even though he signed in January, Steve Harper was never going to play - he was there purely to be third choice and to help develop Jordan Pickford, who will battle Vito Mannone for the number one spot between the sticks next season.
Brown I think would have been a decent back-up option for Sunderland. He demonstrated against Liverpool, Aston Villa and Swansea that he could step in when needed to do a job. Though he's not good enough for the first team anymore, I wouldn’t have been against him staying.
Danny Graham was never the most popular figure given his roots with the dark side but in the last year or so at Sunderland he was a grafter. Sunderland fans expect, at minimum, a player who gives 100% on the pitch. It’s a cliché but a valid one considering we’ve seen some players not try hard enough.
Sadly for all his graft, Graham was just never going to score you goals in the Premier League although I’ll remember his 'goal' at Everton fondly. Good luck Danny, you deserve a successful career wherever you go.
Steven Fletcher, however - I’m glad to see the back of him. He was a better player than Danny Graham but for me didn’t give 100% consistently enough for me to want to keep him. He had a good first season, scoring eleven goals in 2012-13, before injury with Scotland ended his season early.
But in the following two-and-a-half years before going to Marseille in January, he scored twelve goals altogether. That is very poor form for a striker we had to pay £12-14m for. I appreciate his goals against Newcastle but he generally didn’t do enough for me.
The only real news that we have had on a transfer front is that reported eleven million pound bid for West Ham United forward Diafra Sahko; probably the least surprising bid I can think of.
I’d take him as I think he will score goals - maybe not double figures - but enough to ease the burden on Jermain Defoe. He’s also worked with Sam Allardyce before at Upton Park, who knows him and is the type of player who could fit into our system next season.
Other than that, there hasn’t really been anything significant going on. Yann M’Vila must be made a permanent signing but wages are a potential stumbling block there.
I’m not too worried at the minute about the lack of signings. If we get to mid-July and we haven’t signed anyone then I would start to get concerned but considering players have jetted off to France for the Euros, I think it was always highly unlikely we’d have signed anyone at this point.
I’m still cautious going into pre-season as we’ve been in this position before, but I do trust Sam Allardyce. He proved in January what he can do in the market and not just players coming in but going out as well. We are in a much better position to attract players now than in January. Back then, we were in the thick of a relegation battle, with a strong possibility of going down to the Championship.
Five months later and we can look forward to our tenth successive year in the top-flight of English football. With Sam Allardyce we are in a healthier position to strengthen, but there is still work to do.