With another season now in the rear view mirror, Sunderland’s manager Paolo Di Canio has a massive task ahead of him this summer.
After taking over from Martin O’Neil at the end of March, Sunderland’s results have been mixed, with two wins, two draws and three losses. Despite another hugely disappointing season, there are some that believe Di Canio is the right man to revive the fading hopes of Sunderland fans. His task is no easy one however, as Sunderland supporters are hungry for success after two poor seasons.
Despite a solid start to the campaign the Black Cats struggled to maintain any consistency, especially in front of goal, with Steven Fletcher doing most of the damage with his eleven strikes before an ankle injury shortened his season. As one of only a few bright spots in what can only be described as a dismal campaign, Di Canio will need to find some support for Fletcher up front if he is to have any chance of avoiding another relegation battle. Sunderland fans will be keen to see another recognized striker added to the mix with severe goal droughts during the season becoming the norm at the Stadium of Light.
In addition to the frontline, Di Canio will need to find reinforcements at every position on the field as a result of the below-par performances of more recognized names already in the squad. If not, he will need to get the best out of a number of his regulars including, but not limited to, Adam Johnson, Lee Cattermole, Sebastian Larsson, John O’Shea and Titus Bramble. As a whole Sunderland have been disappointing but these players represent the core of the team and more quality will be expected from them on a more consistent basis.
Consistency more than anything should be one of the first objectives Di Canio pursues next season. Sunderland is in need of a new identity; one that involves playing quality football week in and week out, and Di Canio should be looking to instill this in his squad. To do this there will need to be some additions, and quite possibly some subtractions, to the squad and fans will be watching closely to see what moves are made.
As to what type of budget Di Canio will have this summer it’s anyone’s guess, but it is sure to be the main topic of discussion with the board in the coming weeks. Either way, this has to be a summer of change at The Stadium of Light because despite having a relatively solid team on paper, Sunderland continue to move closer towards the opposite end of the table that fans would like to see.
Despite the many unknowns with this club, the side needs to look different next season if fans are going to continue to fill the stadium. There is no doubt Paolo Di Canio is the man for the job but he’ll have his work cut out for him if he’s going to turn Sunderland around.
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