It's often said that when a player comes back from a long term injury, it's like a new signing, but what about when a player with bags of unfulfilled talent - not rated by the previous manager - gets a clean slate under a new gaffer?
Jeremain Lens is a player with undoubted talent. His chipped finish at home to West Ham last year was quite simply one of the best Sunderland goals I've ever witnessed - as brave as it was brilliant. Despite having a relatively bright start in the opening weeks of the season, Dick Advocaat left and with it came murmurs of Lens' bad attitude and laziness.
Patrick van Aanholt received much of the early season flack for his turgid defensive displays, but all too often, he was left with the job of defending the entire right hand side of the opposing team due to the former Kiev man's lack of application to his defensive duties.
By Sam's second game, Lens was dropped completely from the side as rumours of a swift exit in the January window seemed to gain ground. But it didn't happen, and he forced his way back into the side with a goal scoring performance in a 3-1 FA Cup defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates, keeping his place in our vital 2-4 win days later at Swansea. His form during those games was more of the level I think everyone expected when we parted with good money to take him from Kiev.
He continued in the starting line up until our impressive home performance against Man City but was hauled off at half time to be replaced by new boy Wahbi Khazri who, as we all know, impressed massively. He was effectively never seen again until the end of the season. Be it coincidence or bad luck for Jeremain, we became a much better looking outfit offensively and defensively without him.
So on the face of it, Lens was brought in with a whole load of expectation and began the season living up to his billing based on his offensive stats, although with the team struggling defensively he was honed in on as one of the "lazy" lot who didn't like to put too much of a shift in. I for one agree with that sentiment that the talented Dutchman does shy away from the blood and thunder that will always be associated with Sunderland AFC. However, he did put more effort in to get back into the side initially, although I think most of us could gauge Sam Allardyce had made his mind up about him by that point, hence the signing of Khazri coupled with the disappearance of Lens from even the subs bench at points.
Lens has hit gold with the untimely departure of Big Sam. Suddenly he has a new manager who should, and will, give him a clean slate - though I'm skeptical as to whether Jeremain has the heart to grab the opportunity with both hands.
However if - and it's a very big if - he can replicate the form that made him a big name at his former clubs, maybe he can be like the new 'signing' we should have had last season.