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Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - AESSEAL New York Stadium

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RR End of Year Review: Our hopes and expectations for Sunderland in 2024

In the final edition of our 2023 retrospective, we asked our writers for their aspirations for 2024, and to pick one player who could kick on next year

Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Andy Thompson says…

Hopes for 2024

As 2024 approaches, we sit just outside the top six and it would be a realistic expectation to push for a playoff place.

It seems that the top four will stay the same from now until the end of the season, so realistically, we’ll be battling for the remaining two spots.

It’s a competitive division, a winning or losing streak can shoot you up or down the league, and I think if we finish anywhere between fifth and tenth, it would be seen as a good season.

Overall, my main ambition for 2024 would be that the team can develop some consistency in results.

The squad is young and learning but the next year will be a big one for many of the players we’ve signed during the past few windows.

Their development is key to the model working so I’d expect the likes of Abdoullah Ba, Jobe, Jenson Seelt, Timothée Pembélé and Nazariy Rusyn to play key roles moving forward.

It’s possible that Dan Ballard, Jack Clarke, Trai Hume and Dan Neil will leave if we don’t go up and replacing them will be no mean feat, but the hope is that we can and the new recruits can step up to replace any departures.

Sunderland player to watch in 2024

There have been a few displays recently that suggest that Jenson Seelt could be a huge asset for this team over the next year and beyond.

As much as I love Luke O’Nien, he’s not a centre back and I think the plan over the coming months will be to give Seelt more first team opportunities and then eventually take over as the long term successor in that position.

We invested in Seelt over the summer and from his most recent displays, it’s clear he can read the game well and is comfortable on the ball as well as being physically imposing.

It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out but I think he has a bright future for us and 2024 could be a big year for him, especially as we move away from O’Nien being deployed as a centre back.

Sunderland v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

Jon Guy says…

Hopes for 2024

After the first half of the season. I think our hope has to be for a top six finish.

That may well be radically changed this time next month if we see the likes of Dan Ballard and Jack Clarke heading off to the Premier league, and if nothing is done to solve our striker woes.

However, if we get a striker and keep the squad together, I think we’ll be a very different proposition to those who end up with us in the playoffs. The gap to the top two is already significant and Southampton and Leicester look likely to bounce straight back.

If the club is ambitious in the transfer window (which includes rebuffing the offers we’ll receive for certain players), we can look forward to a decent rest of the season.

Sunderland player to watch in 2024

It has to be Dan Ballard.

He’s got better and better as the season has progressed and can make a real difference at both ends of the pitch.

Sunderland v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Michael Dunne says…

Hopes for 2024

The obvious ambition is promotion.

That may not be the message that the Sunderland board are giving to Michael Beale, but it should be, given where we are in the league.

With Beale now in the job, I think an implementation of a style of play and identity would be where we need to start with the new management. The last few performances appeared to be a bit disjointed and it’ll naturally take time for things to take shape.

Furthermore, I think trying to get the best out of our strikers needs to be a priority. The likes of Nazariy Rusyn and Eliezer Mayenda will have had a few months to bed in but the longer this season goes on, the more games they need to play.

Sunderland player to watch in 2024

I think 2024 will be a big year for many of our players and it could be the year that one of them is bought for big money.

Trai Hume has become a key player for us and if his form continues for the rest of the season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him move on to the Premier League if we don’t make it there.

Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - AESSEAL New York Stadium Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

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