Having emphatically secured their Premier League status, and consigned their closest rivals to life in the Championship, it has been a end to the season for Sam Allardyce and his Sunderland side. In a season monumentally overshadowed by the drama surrounding Adam Johnson, which led to his imprisonment and the resignation of former chief executive Margaret Byrne, the worst of the drama seems to be over
The attention should now turn to the rebuilding job he has to undertake to ensure a season laden with drama and the alarmingly high possibility of relegation does not form the arc of their 2016/2017 season. This is not the first time Sunderland have pulled off a near miracle in their attempts to escape relegation, and since the resignation of Martin O’Neill in 2013, have barely looked like progressing beyond the lower half of the table.
2 years previously, Sunderland hauled themselves out of the mire with three victories in their final six games, away at Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United under Gus Poyet. The same level of drama was present last year when a seemingly doomed Black Cats side triumphed over relegation again, helmed by Dick Advocaat. However, both managers were sacked after dreadful starts to the season which is becoming an increasingly frequent trait at the Stadium of Light.
‘Big Sam’ can be credited with the stabilising of many a club under his stewardship, including West Ham United and Bolton Wanderers, and yet again finds himself helming a club who needs stability. As he looks at his squad, players who have formed his squad over the past three years need to account for the teams shortcomings, and may very well head for the exit door. Had it not been for the arrival of Jermain Defoe, the future of Sunderland may not have lain in the Premier League.
Such players may include Fabio Borini, who never really settled to English football at Sunderland or at Liverpool. Sebastian Larsson has not looked a player of inspiration, whilst question marks hang over the longevity of John O’Shea and Wes Brown. The array of deadwood currently on loan at various clubs across the planet also needs cutting loose, freeing up funds for Allardyce to sign players with typical astuteness.
The success of Leicester City this season proves any team is capable of miracles if hard work is applied. No doubt Sam will instill that into his players over the summer, and whilst such a miracle is admittedly unlikely to happen, it provides an opportunity for Allardyce to strengthen a squad that finally, it seems, has the potential to make progress away from the confines of the relegation zone.