Sunderland have been relatively quiet in the hunt for players – nothing major has happened as of yet, bar a few outgoings and new contracts for players that are part of the first team plans for next season.
The dust has well and truly settled on our last Premier League campaign, although it stills brings a smile to my face to see our nearest and dearest competing in the Championship, though if you spoke to any of them you'd think that relegation has been a blessing for them.
Now we’re approaching 2016-17, there’s new hope building for the next year. I’ve said previously that we’ve been in this position quite a few times before so it’s difficult to have real optimism.
I remember being asked over a year ago when Dick Advocaat kept us at Arsenal if I’d have him permanently. I was 50-50 because, even though he kept us up, Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet had done the same and both eventually lost their jobs with Sunderland no further forward than when they arrived. How was Advocaat any different? We all know what happened after his return.
With Sam Allardyce keeping us up, and deservedly keeping us up, we have a reason to be more optimistic for what is to come, but he’ll know more than anyone else how important it is that we get things right this summer.
We need a good quantity of quality players so we can actually start competing in the Premier League again rather than struggle at the bottom. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve said it but we can’t rest on our laurels again like we have done the last few years. We must give ourselves as good a chance as possible to start the season well for a change.
Allardyce already proved in January that you can have a successful window and bring in good players so there’s no reason why can’t do that again. He brought in Jan Kirchhoff, Lamine Kone and Whabi Khazri when we in the bottom three, when it looked a real possibility that we could go down. Each one of them addressed major issues that we had in the squad. They all made an impact. How often have we seen players come in and pick up loads of money to do nothing? I usually don’t like the ‘look what these players get paid’ slur but it’s justified after seeing four seasons of mediocrity.
If we have another window like the one in January as well as a successful pre-season then we have no excuses to not have a solid, much-improved campaign.
When signing players I think three or four quality additions to the first team would stand us in good stead for the season, whilst also bringing in players who would be good competition for places. For me it’s important not to drastically change the spine of the side too much - we need to try and keep the core of the team the same or at least similar to the one that finished last season so strongly.
The way we ended last season gives us hope as we only lost once in the last eleven games, only lost twice in the last thirteen and only four times in the Premier League since the turn of the year – we’re not a bad side in my opinion.
It’s about time we started to act like it too. Next season I don’t want to see Sunderland losing to average teams and actually win their winnable games.
But with Allardyce, I’m cautious yet hopeful that we can have a respectable Premier League season which even more hopefully will set us on our way to bigger and (much) better things.