The alarming rate at which smaller clubs have surpassed Sunderland in both organisation and ambition in recent years has become deeply concerning, and with Huddersfield Town securing their promotion to the Premier League with a play-off final win over Reading yesterday at Wembley it was yet another stark reminder of why we must swallow our pride and look deeper at the reasons why we have failed to gain any momentum during our ten year stint as a top flight club.
It's important that we don't underestimate the size of the task at hand for the club over the coming twelve months. The Championship is unrelenting and arduous and unless you wade into the division spending money at the rate of which Newcastle United did last season it's near impossible to immediately bounce back from relegation these days.
We're set for an unbelievable squad rebuild in the summer, and Ellis Short simply will not throw money at fixing our issues any longer. We cannot afford to sign big names for top dollar; we no longer have the draw of the Premier League behind us in order to coax players and managers to this club. It's now about being realistic, recognising our problems and looking at the most cost-effective and simplistic ways to resolve them.
Ignoring the fact we have a 48,000 all-seater stadium, a world-class training facility and a loyal and passionate fanbase we are a fragmented football club that is saddled with crippling debts and an owner that wants to sell up. We have become hamstrung by a lack of forward-thinking and planning that has ultimately led us to this point.
In the past we've spent money in order to paper over our issues but, having plummeted dramatically into the Championship, now we are vulnerable and need to start showing some signs of fight if we are to re-stabilise and re-fulfill our potential.
So, right now, it's about going back to basics. In terms of management we need someone who sees through the problems restricting them and looks to embrace what they have to work with in order to make things work.
Huddersfield are proof of that ideology working at Championship level. They made an unconventional choice in appointing David Wagner and with very limited funds he has been able to lead a historically unfashionable football club into the Premier League through using incredibly modern and innovative management techniques. You know, things like cultivating a group of players, making them feel a part of something special, making sure that they are well-drilled and organised - all things that, for one reason or another, have became an after-thought time and time again at Sunderland by a long line of failed managers.
It doesn't have to cost you exorbitant amounts of money to get basic management techniques and player recruitment right.
It's about understanding what you are at your core, identifying your weaknesses and issues and looking to fix them in a reasonable fashion. It's about looking at your playing squad, knowing what you need in each position and bringing in the players that can offer you those attributes. It's about analysing your budget, working out what wriggle room you have and looking down the leagues and in the loan market for players that can fulfill those roles. It's about moving on players that aren't the right type of character and replacing them with ones that appreciate the position that they are fortunate enough to find themselves in. It's about ensuring that your players are enjoying your training methods and are responding in kind by putting in the effort during games. It's about reflecting a positive attitude and demeanor to everyone that you come into contact with, and about having the belief in both yourself and your players that you are able to succeed regardless of what you've got.
So I look to David Wagner and Huddersfield and I see what should be the template for Sunderland next season in the Championship.
If a club with one of the lowest budgets in the second tier can get promoted then there is absolutely no reason why we cannot either, but it's about embracing the situation we find ourselves in whilst also recognising all of the brilliant things we already have at this club.
David Wagner is no miracle worker, he's just a manager that wasn't afraid to believe in himself and his players. Whoever steps into the Sunderland manager's job next has to be willing to do the same.