Sunderland travel to Preston on Monday in what is a season defining game, with a win potentially enough to send the Black Cats into the play-offs depending on other results. However, whatever the outcome, supporters will be full of immense pride for what their club has achieved this year.
With an unplanned managerial change, injuries to many key players and a remarkably youthful squad, Sunderland can not possibly finish lower than ninth which is an outstanding achievement for a newly promoted squad.
Should Sunderland go one step further and finish inside of the top six, they would become the first promoted side to do so since Brentford in the 2014/15 season.
However this season’s success has seen supporters’ expectations change for future seasons as seen in the below social media poll, if they are to remain in England’s second tier.
Many expected Sunderland’s first season back in the Championship to be a battle to stay up, with three of the previous four teams to have been promoted through the play-offs, finding themselves relegated straight back to League One.
However, relegation was never a concern for Tony Mowbray’s side who continue to demonstrate their worth in this league.
In the same social media post, supporters identified what their second season objectives would have been prior to the success that the club has achieved this year in comparison to what they are now.
The results show that the majority of supporters expected Sunderland to attempt to solidify themselves as a mid table side in their second season.
However, these expectations have changed drastically with 71% of the poll sample now identifying the play-offs as a minimum benchmark for the club in the 2023/24 season.
Whilst Sunderland and their owners have to aim high, they also have to be weary of the ‘second season syndrome’ that has seen clubs in recent years achieve a top six finish, before dropping off significantly in following seasons.
Clubs such as Barnsley and Huddersfield achieved a similar feat to Sunderland this year, before finishing at the other end of the table in the following season.