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Sunderland finally look like a club on a mission

We have burst off the blocks and we are moving at a pace we haven’t seen for many years; the hope has to be that it will continue to the point we have finished our transfer race long before the deadline arrives.

A man with a plan - Speakman moving quickly to deliver on signings
| Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The season might be over, but the club seems to show no signs of taking a break as we plan for new campaign.

This time last year the fans were still basking in the afterglow of the play-off success but while we came so close to a return this year, what strikes me is the clear change in the way we are operating.

For far too long the fans we have expressed our concerns that we seemed to have no long-term plan, no strategy for where the club was heading.

This off-season seems to be a world apart and we are getting a far clearer view of the direction of travel for the club and the squad.

The departure of Stewart Donald ends his association with the club and delivers clarity in the ownership structure with two shareholders both of whom have the money and the contact to seemingly invest in the club and its future.

What it does is put an end to the debate as to whether the involvement of Donald and maybe a lack of ability or interest to invest in the club was reducing the speed of progress. We now have an ownership structure that is streamlined and transparent. They will stand and fall by their actions.

In terms of the playing side of the club, Kristjaan Speakman and his team have been anything but idle.

A deal for Jobe Bellingham is said to be imminent, and we have already been strongly linked to Australian Under 20 international Nectarios Triantis and Portuguese forward Luis Semedo, who has yet to play for Benfica’s first team but is available on a free and comes with huge a huge amount of talent and potential.

Talk of a move for former loanee Dion Saunderson has been widespread, as have rumours that Amad may be open to a return next year on loan. While the news about our UK-based targets (other than Bellingham) has been far less concrete than that around Triantis and Semedo, what it indicates is that the planning for the season ahead has been in the making for some months.

While the window doesn’t officially open until later in the month, there is a different feel about our transfer approach this year.

We don’t have any real indication of the future of some of our outstanding performers last year, and while the club looks to have issued a “hand-off” message to enquires for the likes of Jack Clarke, we all know if the money is right there might be movement.

Preston North End v Sunderland: Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Having said that the club does seem to have planned for various eventualities.

We are aware that the club is looking to invest in youth and the events of last season point to a strategy that has the real potential to deliver success.

While Tony Mowbray raised the issue of the need for experience in the squad it currently looks like we are keen to bring in young skilful players, for a heavily scouted list.

We have to hope that there is a budget behind the scenes to bring in some older heads to guide the squad. Indeed this week has seen us linked with Heerenveen central midfielder Thom Haye, who is the grand old age of 28.

The hope has to be that the flying start to the close season will see the club avoid the “deadline day” desperation that has been a signature of the club’s past windows.

We have burst off the blocks and we are moving at a pace we haven’t seen for many years; the hope has to be that it will continue to the point we have finished our transfer race long before the deadline arrives.

However, there are sure to be plenty of highs and lows in the weeks to come.

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