Thus far Sunderland have confirmed a game with South Shields at Mariners Park on the 11th of July, and a pair of friendlies in Portugal against Benfica B (July 18th) and Belenenses (July 20th) - three games which, as of writing, make up the entirety of our pre-season schedule.
That, of course, is far less than you’d usually expect as part of any club’s preparations, and Sunderland certainly need to get a shake on with regards to putting the final touches to their pre-season plans.
We know that as part of the deal to bring Craig Samson to the club earlier this year it was agreed between Sunderland and St Mirren that a pre-season friendly would take place - though nothing else has been said since it was originally noted when the goalkeeper coach arrived back in January.
We also know that, as per Stewart Donald’s recent appearance on the Roker Rapport Podcast, there are plans afoot to give Lee Cattermole a testimonial - a game that is expected to be played on Saturday 27th July at the Stadium of Light, in an as-yet unannounced friendly against a foreign club.
I can’t be the only Sunderland supporter who is sat wondering why we’ve only announced a small handful of friendlies so far this season, just one week before the players return to the Academy of Light for pre-season training?
The three games that we have revealed were all announced later than expected too - South Shields had almost sold their entire allocation of tickets before Sunderland even put theirs on sale, and the friendlies in Portugal were announced just a month in advance of the games, which gave supporters wishing to make the trip very little notice in order to book their flights and match tickets.
Whilst there’s clearly a lot going on off the pitch with regards to our ownership situation - and I might be wrong here - I wouldn’t expect that this would impact upon our plans for arranging games as part of pre-season.
Granted, our last season ended late due to our participation in the play-off final, and you’d imagine that has set us back slightly, but should that matter when scheduling games in against credible opponents? With St Mirren, surely arranging that particular visit is a formality when we’d already arranged to play them back in January?
It feels like we’re somewhat unprepared ahead of the new season, and whether that’s harsh or not it’d certainly be appreciated by supporters if we had some idea of what is going on with regards to the games we’ll play in the coming weeks.