How Sunderland can bounce back to the Championship next season
The demise of Sunderland is sad to see. The Black Cats are in a mess. With no manager, empty seats and players who don’t want to be there, the future looks bleak.
Nevertheless, Sunderland can bounce straight back up next season. Preparation over the summer will be crucial. Clubs such as Wigan Athletic, Bolton Wanderers and Wolves have all achieved promotion from League One at the first time of asking in recent years.
Here is Sunderland's correct formula to ensure a return to the Championship.
Get the right manager
Sunderland's change of ownership resulted in the sacking of Chris Coleman. The North East club is now on the hunt for a new manager. Their top target should be Mick McCarthy. The former Millwall, Republic of Ireland, Wolves and Ipswich Town boss understands Sunderland having worked there before. He has bags of experience in the Football League and would be a shrewd appointment.
If Sunderland fail to lure McCarthy back to the Stadium of Light, then they should opt for a younger option. Either Kevin Phillips, Shrewsbury Town boss Paul Hurst or Michael Appleton. All three are in the running, but Michael Appleton is currently the standout favourite.
The Black Cats need to slash their wage bill and get themselves into a more stable financial position. High earners such as Jack Rodwell, Lamine Kone, Whabri Khazri and Didier N’Dong need to go, one way or another.
League One is a hard slog. Teams need players who are committed to the cause and not just collecting their wage slip. Sunderland, therefore, must find a way to offload unwanted goods, either by cancelling their contracts, loaning them out or even selling them for a small fee. It will free up wages and cut costs. Rodwell, for example, has not played since September. He does not want to stay.
Get recruitment right
Sunderland needs a mix of young and hungry players, as well as some with League One experience. Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic did their recruitment right last summer by signing players with third-tier experience, hence why both have earned an immediate return to the Championship.
Sunderland’s signings last summer were poor. The squad struggled to gel, contributing to relegation. They must learn from their mistakes this summer.
Keep experienced players
Lee Cattermole, Aiden McGeady and Adam Matthews could have big parts to play next season. Holding on to them would provide Sunderland with a big boost. It is very important to have influential players in the dressing room. They help grind out results.
Sunderland's players need to start showing some fight and passion. Doing so could result in higher home crowds. Positivity would then flow around the Stadium of Light.
Play the youngsters
Sunderland is the home to some promising youngsters, who will prove vital next season. They must keep young talents such as Josh Maja, Joel Asoro, George Honeyman and Ethan Robson. They will all succeed in League One, giving the Black Cats an excellent shot at bouncing back to the Championship.