clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Luton Town v Sunderland: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final Second Leg

Filed under:

Cheer up indeed! What the future could mean to this Sunderland supporter

Defeat for Sunderland last week at Kenilworth Road was a blow, but we can still be optimistic going forward.

Lynden Gooch looks ahead...
| Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Sunderland’s longest spell outside of the top flight was confirmed with defeat in the playoff semi-final second leg against Luton, and yet I feel more positive about the future of the club than I’ve done in years.

Losing is never nice and it always seems harder to swallow so soon after a big game, but I don’t feel anger in the same way I have after previous failures – if this can even be classed as a ‘failure’.

Luton Town v Sunderland: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final Second Leg Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Unlike in previous campaigns, promotion would’ve been a bonus instead of an expectation, and given our injury problems, I don’t think much else could’ve been done.

My overriding feeling is one of pride at the strong results that were achieved, and any idea of being let down is more for the players and staff, who I’m growing particularly fond of and I feel deserve good things.

The squad was amazing at times and with the extra experience, as well as players returning from the treatment table and a couple of well-placed additions, 2023/2024 should see further strides being taken.

A clear philosophy is in place and not only that, it’s also being adhered to.

Yes, there’ll be times where it needs to be adapted and to show flexibility, but one of the key components is patience and that could be about to pay dividends.

Arguments will continue over whether a short-term striking option should’ve been brought in, but having gone through that period and worked around it as much as possible, Sunderland are now in a strong position.

Sunderland v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship - Play Off - Semi Final - First Leg - Stadium of Light Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

New forwards will have been scouted from a wide pool. They’ll have been checked and double checked and can now be brought in using money that may have otherwise been shelled out for little return.

It also appears as if a lot of supporters are on board with the idea of taking potential and helping it be realised, as opposed to buying the finished article – ‘finished’ having sometimes been the operative word.

The senior players we do have are of a mind to set a guiding example and the fans can see how it’s impacting the football on offer, with excitement replacing frustration and the mood at games turning as a result.

I’ll admit that the atmosphere may change slightly next season, now that we’re no longer a surprise package and can reasonably set our sights higher than simply getting to grips with the Championship.

The pressure will be greater but I do feel that the players we’ve got have already shown themselves to be capable of improvement. To my mind, the exact pace of it isn’t a worry, and if foundations continue to be laid and built upon, I’ll take it.

Coach driver...

Obviously there’ll be things to resolve over the summer in order for the momentum to be preserved.

There’s contracts to tie up and player sales to consider and potentially respond to if the money is right, and I suspect there’ll changes to the coaching staff, too.

Thankfully, it would now appear as if suggestions of Tony Mowbray leaving were a little premature, and whilst the club always needs to have a succession plan in place should the situation change at the top, I wonder whether other tweaks remain in the pipeline.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but it felt as though Alessandro Barcherini’s message of thanks at the end of the season also acted as a goodbye.

From the outside looking in, the club’s head of goalkeeping appears to have been quite influential in the progress of Anthony Patterson and he seemed even to have been involved in outfield discussions on the touchline during games, so it would be a shame if he was to go.

West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - The Hawthorns Photo by Barrington Coombs/PA Images via Getty Images

His original appointment, which saw the arrival of young forward-thinking coach with a growing CV was encouraging, and although stability in football can be hard to achieve, departures that are due to something other than poor performance at least means that things are going in the right direction.

Getting those positions right, meanwhile, is a cost effective way to bring a side on, and spending in the right areas is becoming a real strength.

The statistics show that Sunderland, plus Luton and Coventry City are all towards the bottom of the table in terms of budgets and player wages.

That might give us bit of wriggle room should it be felt that one or two deserve an increase, but it also shows that splashing the cash is not necessarily the best way.

For the first time in a long time, I’m comfortable with how the finances are being handled and I feel the current structure is a sensible approach that safeguards the club.

Things look decent if you ask me, and I’ve already bought tickets for the coming pre-season. Bring it on, Sunderland!


Matchday Musings: Sunderland come unstuck against the Bluebirds


Editorial: Heads up! Cardiff game was a reminder that it’s not all going to be plain sailing


Talking Points: Sunderland sucker punched by Cardiff on home return

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Roker Report Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report