Can Sunderland compete for promotion this season?
By Anthony Kendrick - Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/Ant_Kendrick - with thoughts from Andy Clark and Owen Meek.
The first place to start is with the manager. David Moyes said that he wanted to stay, but in the end resigned, without taking any money from the club in compensation. It is impossible to say how he would have done in the Championship with the side, but the chances are he would have struggled. Simon Grayson, who formerly managed at Leeds and more recently at Preston took over. He did a very good job there, leading the club to a top half finish last season and seems like a very good appointment.
The squad has undergone some changes with the two big players leaving in Jordan Pickford, for a fair £30m fee and Jermain Defoe, who had a clause in his contract allowing him to leave on a free. From a Sunderland perspective, it seemed worth the risk in keeping him for the possibility of staying in the Premier League rather than cashing him in during the January transfer window. Along with that, some of the deadwood including Victor Anichebe, Steven Pienaar, Joleon Lescott have left the club.
The club have not spent big on transfers, with young Everton pair Brendan Galloway and Tyias Browning coming in on loan. In addition to this, Grayson has signed Aiden McGeady following a decent season at Preston, along with Lewis Grabban on loan. Both are shrewd signings. James Vaughan also joins the club after scoring 24 goals for Bury last season in League One, but he has missed a couple of penalties in pre-season, which may knock his confidence.
One player who has hit the headlines recently is Darron Gibson. He was recorded criticising his team-mates, saying that some of players don't care. The club has dealt with the matter, disciplining the player. On the surface it is easy to criticise, but he has said what a lot of fans were thinking, and perhaps the player deserves credit for coming out and being in a situation with the fans, rather than going to private and VIP events. He is unlikely to play a large role this season, with Lee Cattermole and Didier Ndong likely to be first choice in central midfield.
To conclude, Sunderland have some hope of going up automatically, but their hopes are more likely to lie in the playoffs. They have reduced their wage bill massively and haven't spent big, which should stand them in good stead going forward.
Check out our full discussion on Sunderland in this week's episode of The 72 Show -