How can Sunderland ensure next season is a successful one?

Sunderland are set for a summer of rebuilding and rethinking their strategy after a highly disappointing 23/24 season. Hopes were high for the Black Cats at the start of the season; however, the season has been one to forget. The departure of Tony Mowbray, the appointment of Michael Beale and the poor recruitment have all been key factors in the implosion of Sunderland’s season.

Mike Dodd’s side finished the season in 16th place, expectedly receiving lots of criticism from fans. What can Sunderland do to ensure that next season is a successful one?

Tweaking the recruitment strategy is a must for Sunderland. While it is a good idea to sign talented, young players for small fees, there has to be a balance. Sunderland were the youngest team in the Championship on average last season, and it shows. The squad has been crying out for more experience, which makes the sales of Danny Batth and Lynden Gooch even more intriguing. Admittedly, the signing of Bradley Dack brought some experience. However, he spent almost all season injured and contributed just 1 goal and 1 assist. If the Black Cats are to challenge for the play offs next season, more of a balanced squad is needed.

While some of the young players brought in have been successful, a lot have failed to make their mark on Wearside. Luis Hemir, Jewison Bennette and Abdoullah Ba are all examples of the young talented squad Sunderland have, however none of them possess the quality required to challenge at the top of the Championship.

The model at Sunderland has been compared to that of teams like Brentford, however the difference is the squad balance. Brentford sign plenty of young talent, however they have struck a balance of youth and experience which has ultimately paid off. A squad with an average age of 22.9 will not achieve promotion without any kind of leadership, this is a huge area for Kristjaan Speakman and Kyril Louis Dreyfus to improve ahead of next season.