Malc Dugdale says…
The one thing that springs to mind are the injuries we’ve suffered throughout the season, and I wish we could wave that away.
The fact we could field a pretty strong first eleven despite the lads who are in the treatment room is crazy. I’ve said it before, but teams get relegated after that kind of impact.
To be where we are despite that is a massive achievement for the management team and the squad, but it must be considered that the injuries have allowed things to develop which wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
We’ve arguably had to become an even better footballing side without Ross Stewart up front, and the likes of Jack Clarke, Amad and Patrick Roberts have all had to chip in more.
We’ve also been able to see the full potential of young defenders and midfielders, and the flexibility of players who would’ve maybe got fewer minutes or wouldn’t have tried to play those roles had the physio not been so busy.
This will all benefit the club in the longer term, because we’ve learned so much about the lads.
Every challenge is an opportunity to develop and grow, and rather than crumble as Sunderland teams have in the past, we’ve regrouped and shone in every position on the pitch.
These things are sent to try us and we’ve risen up and taken them all on.
Well done, lads. Next season is going to be bloody epic.
Phil West says…
If I had to choose one thing that I’d change about what’s otherwise been an immensely enjoyable season, it would be our game management, particularly at home.
You can’t overlook the fact that our form at the Stadium of Light has been fairly poor, and whilst it’s not dealt a terminal blow to our hopes of ending the season on a real high, it’s certainly made things tougher than they needed to be.
Managing games at home has been an issue this season, particularly when we’ve been in a strong position, and we’ve conceded cheap goals on too many occasions, leading to dropped points and plenty of frustration.
The games against the likes of QPR, Burnley and Hull were there to be won, but we let them slide through poor decisions and defensive errors at key moments.
Some of this can be attributed to a little bit of naivety; of not being fully in control of games at key moments and understanding exactly what’s needed in order to see a match out. That’s a byproduct of fielding such a young side, and it also shows the need for patience.
This isn’t being overly harsh, because the players have generally been superb for us, but it is an area of weakness and this squad is clearly driven by the desire to constantly improve, so they’ll doubtless be keen to learn from those chastening experiences.
Next season, we have to address it- regardless of which league we’re in- and I’m sure that the players and Tony Mowbray will be working hard during the summer to ensure that in those key moments, we’re more streetwise and capable of seeing games out.
Tom Albrighton says…
In the strangest sense, I don’t think I’d change a thing, which sounds crazy, but hear me out.
Prior to this season, all many of us wanted was just an average campaign. Comfortable survival would’ve been embraced by 90% of fans but that target has long been surpassed.
The reason I wouldn’t change a thing is simple: this season hasn’t only been a resounding success, it’s also delivered one of the most exciting and enjoyable Sunderland sides in recent memory.
I wouldn’t want to change a thing because there’s simply nothing I’d change. A fast-flowing, youthful Sunderland side devoid of fear and intimidation is something that was a pipe dream even as recently as two seasons ago.
Not only are these lads entertaining, they’re so endearing too, and for the first time in almost a decade, we’ve got a club and a squad to really be proud of.
Every situation, every bump in the road and every mistake has actually contributed towards bringing us to where we find ourselves today.
This is a side we’ve wished for for so long that it seems almost absurd to wish anything could’ve gone differently, purely just for how this team makes us all feel.
I get that it doesn’t really answer the question, but when you’re having so much fun, why wish for anything else?