Premier League profile 2015/16: Sunderland
Sunderland could be an altogether different proposition next season, than the one who just survived in the Premier League last time out.
Under new coach Dick Advocaat, who performed an unexpected u-turn to sign on permanently after his successfully keeping the Black Cats up during his temporary spell in charge, they look like a completely new side, following an opportunity to put his stamp on the team during the transfer window.
Already a hero in the eyes of their adoring fans, Advocaat brought striker Jermain Defoe back to the English top flight in January, who subsequently fired Sunderland to survival.
The Weirside outfit are odds-on at 1/3 with Coral to stay up next term, though club officials will be hoping they can do slightly better.
For a top half finish, which is likely, at this stage, bound to be the height of their realistic ambitions, they have odds of 5/1 and if new players can gel quickly with existing ones and Advocaat finds the correct combination, achieving this is definitely possible.
Last season, it was arguably their defence which was the biggest weakness and consequently the area that called for the most surgery in the transfer window. As a result, in came Sebastien Coates from Liverpool permanently plus Adam Matthews from Celtic, while Younes Kaboul could be a great signing from Tottenham.
Advocaat’s compatriot Jeremain Lens could be a clever signing in an attacking midfield role and will add guile to the Black Cats’ attacking options and could be a great foil for Defoe, with both of them having a plethora of experience.
The midfield is more or less settled and while a new face would add competition, the likes of Jack Rodwell, Sebastian Larsson, Emanuele Giaccherini and Lee Cattermole have more than enough quality to keep the club competitive as Advocaat looks to build on last season.