A big summer lies ahead: five reflections from Sunderland’s final-day defeat to Sheffield Wednesday

Sunderland fell to their 22nd – and final – defeat of the season, as their campaign concluded with a 2-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.

First-half goals from Liam Palmer and Josh Windass secured Danny Rohl’s side’s Sky Bet Championship survival, whilst Sunderland’s poor form concluded with the Black Cats only winning two from their last 15.

Here are the key talking points:


When Sunderland travelled to Sheffield Wednesday at the end of September, Wednesday were in the mire. Winless in their first eight matches, Xisco Munoz’s side were put to the sword in what was a clinical first-half performance from the Black Cats, where they hardly escaped second gear.

Munoz was sacked on October 4th, but by the start of December, the Yorkshire side were already 12 points adrift of safety, and eight adrift in February.

It just shows how remarkable the job that Danny Rohl has done at Wednesday, and the fact that he is being linked with more appealing jobs across the world proves just how invigorating he has been.

Here, though, was his Wednesday side at their best: well-drilled, disciplined and clinical. In the end, it led to the superb scenes at the full-time whistle for the away side, when their Championship safety was confirmed after being all but ruled down earlier in the campaign.


As Jack Clarke fired home a third after just over half-an-hour back in September, you really felt as though Sunderland were building something very special.

Firmly in play-off contention and with the most in-form winger in the league, it feels a lifetime ago that this was the Sunderland that was performing week in, week out.

Here we lie, though, eight months on, and they finished the campaign in what can only be described as relegation form.

Two wins from their last 15 and having only scored four goals from their last eight matches, a lack of attacking output, combined with managerial switches, have led to this position, and has contributed to the Black Cats’ decline in this season.

2WM6C1Y Sunderland Coach Mike Dodds looks dejected during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sunderland and Swansea City at the Stadium Of Light, Sunderland on Saturday 24th February 2024. (Photo: Michael Driver | MI News) Credit: MI News & Sport /Alamy Live News


The final day of the season is always a poignant one for Sunderland supporters, but this season more so.

Last Thursday’s announcement of the death of club legend, Charlie Hurley, touched supporters of all ages, and this was the club’s first home match since that news was released.

A memorial was held at the Charlie Hurley gates near the entrance of the stadium, before a minute’s applause was held in Hurley’s tributes, with one minute’s applause also being held for Jack Shields, a member of SAFC Fan TV as well as other fanzines.


Sunderland’s recruitment model is that some of their best players will eventually be sold for profits when the time is right, and for some of the current crop, that time may be this summer.

Jack Clarke, Dan Neil and Anthony Patterson have all had their futures linked away from the club this summer with many Premier League sides swirling around.

Clarke’s substitution in the 87th minute generated a standing ovation from the home support, in what may be his final game for the club, whilst a lap of appreciation around a near-empty Stadium of Light was the players’ final steps on the Stadium of Light turf this campaign.

2M565XB Sunderland’s Jack Clarke during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers at the Stadium Of Light, Sunderland on Monday 26th December 2022. (Credit: Michael Driver | MI News)


The Black Cats have had their fair share of huge summers over the past couple of years, but this year is one of the biggest in modern times.

After so much good work last season, Sunderland have been in reverse gear since the turn of the year and after the disastrous appointment of Michael Beale and the lack of game-changing transfer additions, the next few months could serve to be a major moment in the tenure of Kyril Louis-Dreyfus.

The feel-good factor that surrounded the club last season has quickly dissipated over the last couple of months, and the club’s next moves will be decisive in how the club perform next season.