In our latest end-of-season review, Paul Summerside pinpoints negatives but dwells on the progress made in a disappointing season just ended – positives that he feels should stand Sunderland in good stead for next season provided we learn how to manage our strengths and weaknesses …..

In the build up to Sunday’s playoff final vs Charlton, I was chatting with my daughter, who is currently revising for her GCSE mocks.

We discussed the possibility of defeat and its consequences.

“It’s like your mocks, they are an exam to find out your strengths and weaknesses,” I said. You’ll get another chance next year. That’s when it REALLY matters.”

Paul Summerside plus better half. Click the photo to see all the end-of-season reviews so far

The key is to make your weaknesses your strengths, and your strengths even stronger.

I sincerely hope that our club adopts this as its mantra for next season.

As we stand, it’s hard to decide what kind of season this has been.

Financially the haemorrhaging has stopped and people are looking to invest. We “achieved” top six, which was the minimum target. Plus two trips to Wembley (if both unsuccessful).

Positives have been the relationship between club and fans, some great football and goals pre-Christmas, and the overall support of our brilliant fans.

Weaknesses have revolved mostly around lack of goals post-Christmas, poor game management and poor recruitment.

I honestly believe we grossly underestimated what was needed to get out of this league, in terms of quality and physicality.

All the teams in and around us have a 20+ goal striker, two towering no-nonsense centre halves and pacy wingers. These positions will surely be at the forefront for the manager next season.

It’s not beyond us to bounce back from Sunday’s massive setback. We’ve done it before on numerous occasions. But we need to be realistic about where we are as a club.

Next season we will be once again the biggest fish in this pond, and we need to use this to our advantage.

Make our crowds even bigger, sing even louder, play on the front foot, manage games better and be more physical.

We did okay in our mocks but next year’s examination is the one that REALLY matters.

Armed with all the info from this season, there’s no reason why we cant achieve great things in the next.

After all…we are Sunderland.

Onwards and Upwards

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

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