We take an in-depth look at Sunderland's chances for the upcoming campaign.
Sunderland will head into this season riding the crest of a wave, after their stunning finish to the last campaign.
With the side seemingly dead and buried heading into climax of the 2013/14 Premier League season – away wins against Manchester United and Chelsea, coupled with a turnaround in fortunes at home kept them in the top tier.
It is not that they are simply thanking their lucky stars to be here, though. Gus Poyet has set about changing his squad to ensure that a repeat of last season doesn’t happen again on Wearside.
The club have already made five signings, with more expected in the near future, and they have seen nine members of their last squad leave.
It means that there is a rejuvenated atmosphere around the Stadium of Light and they will be hoping to carry the momentum they have gained into the new season.
Reason to be positive
Jack Rodwell: The signing of Rodwell from Manchester City may just turn out to be one of this season’s best summer buys.
Although the former Everton’s man’s career may have stagnated at Manchester City in recent times, he is a player of undoubted quality and if he can hit somewhere near his top form then the Black Cats will have one of the best English midfielders around.
Gus Poyet: The manager may not have too much experience – especially at the top level – but he is passionate and tactically astute.
He seems to have made an impact on the side after inheriting in from Paulo di Canio and as he makes further changes the improvements should be vast.
Reasons to be fearful
Loss of the loanees: Fabio Borini and Ki Sung-yueng were two of Sunderland’s best players last season but, as is the way with loans, they are only temporary fixes and their departures have left them searching for replacements.
Although the club remain interested in bringing Borini back, the player himself appears keen on trying to prove his worth at Liverpool and, if they cannot secure him on a permanent deal, it will be a big blow for the team.
Connor Wickham: One of the reasons Sunderland stayed up last season was the form of Wickham towards the back-end of the campaign.
However, his future at the club seems far from certain. The youngster only has a year left on his current deal and, if he doesn’t sign the contract offer given to him soon, then he could be another player to leave the Stadium of Light who it will be tough to replace.
Lack of quality: Even manager Gus Poyet has said that the club must bring in more additions if they are to be equipped to achieve his aim this season.
It means that the remainder of the transfer window, and who else the club bring in, may just decide where they end up in May.
Will the manager stay?
Poyet should be given some time, given the escape which he pulled off last season, but a poor start again with undoubtedly create frustration around the Stadium of Light and he could come under pressure. As such, it is imperative that the Black Cats hit the ground running.
Prediction: 14th. This season is unlikely to be one where Sunderland breach the top half, but they should be far more comfortable than they were last year.