Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe shows his dejection as his side concede against Bournemouth. Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

It’s been a disgraceful season if you’re a Sunderland fan and that’s putting it lightly. David Moyes said his side would be fighting against relegation this season and they failed in their fight. It’s been evident all season that few players were willing to fight for the shirt and some players just weren’t up for the battle.

With massive debt levels announced with more losses to follow, the situation for Sunderland is dire. Here are five things we should expect from Sunderland before their first game in the Championship in August.

1. The loss of “better” players

This season has been a nightmare for the Black Cats. However, two players have consistently produced bright sparks which had given fans hope over the course of the year: Jordan Pickford and Jermaine Defoe. Pickford has been phenomenal, making 115 saves this season, and was also unlucky not to grab his first England cap in March.

Meanwhile, Defoe has scored 32 goals in his last 69 appearances and found his way back into the England team during the last internationals. Everton or Manchester City look the two most likely destinations for Pickford who would go for a hefty fee despite his teams’ relegation, though Defoe’s destination is unpredictable as only eight teams have a player that has matched or surpassed his goals tally this season.

One thing is for certain, both players will receive plenty of interest in the summer, while Lamine Kone and Didier N’Dong will also likely attract suitors. Add this to Sunderland’s debt levels, and it becomes clear the club will likely sell if they wish to buy next season.

2. David Moyes announces he’ll stay on as Sunderland manager

This would be news that would leave many fans angry given this season’s performances but Moyes was given a four-year contract by Ellis Short and looks likely to be Sunderland’s first manager to see out a season since Steve Bruce in 2011 – despite everything going wrong for the Scottish manager.

So why will he stay? Firstly, Sunderland is likely the biggest club he could be at next season. The Black Cats could go for a manager who has more experience in the Championship but that would mean paying out the remaining three years of Moyes’ contract before hiring his replacement, something Ellis Short is unlikely to do given the club’s financial position.

3. Youth shines in pre-season friendlies

Sunderland fans have been vocal in their request of the club giving their youth players a chance in the first team, especially in regards to their attacking options. Winger Duncan Watmore has been a solid performer in the Sunderland team when fit and fans will be hoping their other youth products can replicate his success over the last two years.

Expect at least one player from Sunderland’s youth system to make their mark on the pre-season campaign, and with strikers Defoe and out-of-contract Victor Anichebe set to leave the club, our bet would be on Josh Maja or Joel Asoro.

4. Departures hit double figures

Sunderland have used 31 players in the Premier League this season. Two of those players are already gone and it’s likely at least ten others will follow. Some will see their level higher than the Championship and others just haven’t shown any desire to play for the club this year.

Seven players are currently expected to be out of contract at the end of the season, including Sebastian Larsson and Jan Kirchhoff, but expect John O’Shea and George Honeyman to be among those to renew their deals with first-team chances available next season. This leaves at least three more departures if Defoe and Pickford decide to leave the club, and given the performances of players like Fabio Borini this season, Sunderland may be better off without some of their current squad.

5. Free transfers galore!

It’s well known that David Moyes likes a bargain and Sunderland will need to bring in new faces to ensure their squad has the depth to handle the division, regardless of how many leave. When you look at some of the players on the expected free transfer list, quite a few of them would be worth a punt. With the departures of Defoe and Anichebe, who’s to say Sunderland won’t take a punt on ex-player Fraizer Campbell next season?

Sunderland will be hoping to replicate neighbours Newcastle United in coming back up to the Premier League first time around but with clubs like Aston Villa, Norwich, Leeds and three of the four teams in the play-offs competing with the Black Cats next season, it won’t be easy.