Well, Ladies and Gents, the new season is almost upon us as Sunderland embark upon their first journey into English football’s third division since 1988.
Subsequently, I’ve raked out the old Rolodex and thumbed my way through the Roker Report list of footballing contacts in order to pick their brains on how they think Sunderland will fare this season.
Let us know your thoughts - do you agree with what the lads have to say?
I think the start of the season is more important for Sunderland than most.
After recent changes on and off the pitch there is reason for optimism amongst the fans for the first time in a long time.
If we can get off to a positive start and get some momentum along with fans through the gates, I see no reason why we can’t be in the play-offs as a minimum, and then who knows after that - maybe a push for automatic promotion?
I think this will be Sunderland’s most testing season at this level this year - I do, however, feel it will kick the club into life again.
I do worry it will be a cup final for most teams they come up against, yet despite that I will be predicting a play-off finish. Hopefully they can go up from there, but it becomes a lottery at that point.
Whatever division they end up in afterwards, I fully expect, under the new chairman, for Sunderland to kick on the following season.
I don’t know much about the players that have been signed - which is probably the same as most people, to be honest.
But what is important is that they get off to a good start and build momentum early on. I would expect them to be in and around the top spots.
I’ve only seen them once this pre season versus Hartlepool - and wasn’t very impressed if I’m honest.
We’ve added since then, though, and I think Loovens may well be a decent signing.
For me, I think a fit Watmore causes defenders havoc in that league. We need to go up, and however that may be I don’t care, but I think it’s a must.
I believe we will finish in the top three this season.
We’ve got some good young talent in the squad, and I think with bit of experience in amongst them we will achieve promotion.
I’m looking forward to seeing Lynden Gooch and Josh Maja as I believe those two could have a great season!
I think Sunderland will win the league this season.
They have a young, intelligent manager in charge who I have heard nothing but good things about.
If they keep hold of Aiden McGeady and add a goalscorer, I think in every other department they are head and shoulders above any other side in the league.
I have played against a couple of the lads they have signed from Scottish Premiership over the last couple of years; all are good signings in their own right, with Dylan McGeoch being the best of the bunch.
Many clubs who drop down a division or two often make the same mistakes. They buy big name players or appoint a big name manager in the hope of gaining promotion - and more often than not it does not work.
What Sunderland have done well is they have appointed a manager and staff who know what lower league football is all about.
They have also identified players who know League One and have been promoted from it before. Throw in a mix of young hungry players who have come through the system and I can foresee a decent season.
My prediction? Second.
I have high hopes for the club this year. Off the back of two very disappointing seasons, I feel a more positive spell is on the horizon.
There’s a good core of experienced players still at the club who can make a massive difference at that level, as well as a few with lots of potential. I’d like to think that if they can even come close to all pulling in the right direction, a top six position is more than possible.
It needs a strong start coupled with togetherness. The club and its players now have to try and prove that they deserve to be in the top levels of English football and not just rely on history. I think this is the driving force that could see them promoted this season.
Tom White (Sky Sports News)
Throughout my 35 years as a Sunderland supporter I’ve been described as “the most pessimistic football fan in the world” on several occasions. But for once, I’m feeling confident. I actually think we’re going up! However, I’m not expecting it to be easy.
It will be a slow start for us, for three reasons:
1. There are still several players in the squad who are not used to winning. That mindset will be difficult to change. If we go 1-0 down in the opening games, heads will drop because the players are so used to losing. It will take time for the players to start believing in themselves.
2. This is an obvious one, but with such a high turnover of players this summer, they will need a few games to gel. It’s unlikely that Jack Ross will be able to pick a starting eleven that instantly hits the ground running. Especially considering there will still be players at the club who will leave after the deadline.
3. Jack Ross needs to drill his system and playing style into the players. When Gus Poyet arrived he had a clear idea of how he wanted us to play, but it took several games for the players to adapt. Once they did, we were excellent. We reached the League Cup final and beat Chelsea and Manchester United away. The sooner the players know their jobs in the system the better.
So, I’m predicting a slow start, but I think by November, or maybe even December, everything will click and we’ll rise up the table into the automatic promotion places. Once we’re there, we won’t drop out, and we’ll be back in the Championship next season.
The last few years have been painful, and far from enjoyable. We deserve to have smiles on our faces whilst walking away from the ground. This season we will, and I think we’ll look back at the 2018/19 campaign with great fondness in the coming years.
Nothing less than automatic promotion for me!
It’ll be a long, gruelling season with games coming think and fast, but Sunderland have signed some exciting players and the squad looks like it has a good mix of youth and energy, but plenty of experience too.
We have a young, enthusiastic manager in Jack Ross and I firmly believe he’ll get us back in the Championship at the first attempt.
Here’s hoping, anyways!
It’s very difficult to predict because I haven’t seen Sunderland play for a while and I certainly haven’t seen them this pre-season.
What I can say is, that in my role as a first team scout for Scunthorpe, I’ve seen many League One matches over the last two to three years.
If you are defensively organised as a team in this league, work hard for each other, have team spirit, scrap and battle and then have a little bit of guile/craft in the last third, you will have a very good chance as a team of getting into the top six and getting out of this division.
Teams like as Shrewsbury, Burton, Scunthorpe, Rotherham and Fleetwood have proved in recent years that if you are organised defensively as a team and have very good creative midfielders and forwards, those teams will automatically go up - just like Wigan and Blackburn last season, in my opinion.
Sunderland will need to raise their game at home especially, because for every team playing at the Stadium of Light it will be their cup final and they will raise their game in front of a huge crowd, superb playing surface and stadium.
I will be spying/watching Sunderland v Charlton this Saturday as we (Scunthorpe) play them two weeks later, so I will get a better picture of where they are.
I’m sure you will be up there ultimately at the end of the season and I personally wish all the Sunderland fans a happy and successful season - you have earned it over the last few years.
I don’t really know too much about many of the new lads they’ve signed other than Chris Maguire, who I was with at Rotherham. Chris is tidy on the ball and can pick a pass!
When we played Sunderland the other week Lynden Gooch stood out and gave us a tough time; also, the lad McGeouch was neat and tidy.
I’d say it may take a bit of time for the squad to gel, but expect them to reach the play-offs at least.
I know Jack Ross well. He was once my manager and I think he will get things right.
The club just needs to get rid of the deadwood; I think Sunderland will go up as Champions.
I hope this is the season where the fans can begin to enjoy afternoons back at The Stadium of Light and leave with a smile again.
That’s something I really hope the fans get this year after the past few seasons.
Prediction? I think they will come straight back up.
I’m not quite sure, I don’t know many of the new lads, but I’d expect them to go straight back up and I hope they do!
We’ll win the league at a canter.
Might take three or four games to adjust and for a bunch of new players to bed in, but we’ll win the league comfortably in the end, I think.
I think there is a lot of optimism around the place at the minute and a real buzz, which is amazing considering we have just had back-to-back relegations.
If we can get off to a win this Saturday, that could springboard the season. And, with a couple of additions to the squad, we should be looking to bounce straight back with automatic promotion.
We need to make the Stadium of Light an intimidating place for teams to come this season - starting this Saturday!