Following two years of turmoil, the feel-good factor is slowly seeping back into the walls at the Stadium of Light under Jack Ross, but the club must use harsh lessons from their past to shape their future.
However, a recent report from the Northern Echo suggests that similar mistakes could be made upon their return to the Championship.
According to the report, Jack Ross will contemplate making a move for Middlesbrough’s Stewart Downing in the event that the Black Cats return to the Championship this season.
Rangers are also showing an interest, but the 34-year-old would prefer a move to the North East due to family reasons having returned to the region in 2015.
Unnamed Championship clubs are also credited with interest and a move to the MLS remains a possibility.
JamSarny talks Will Grigg, reflects on Sunderland’s 2-1 win over Walsall and looks ahead to the Checkatrade Trophy final in the video below…
While it would be facile to merely boil Sunderland’s fall from grace down to a broken transfer policy, it’s fair to say that abject transfer decisions contributed to back-to-back relegations.
For years Sunderland’s transfer policy essentially revolved around signing rejects from top clubs, such as Jack Rodwell, Fabio Borini, Younes Kaboul and Papy Djilobodji, while Jason Denayer and Adnan Januzaj both arrived on loan deals.
That policy was devoid of a progressive ethos and there poorly constructed decisions saw them tumble into League One with crippling financial issues.
Now that they have the chance to reflect on what they did wrong, they must accept that signing players based on the prestige of their footballing background is not an effective long-term strategy.
Downing, of course, offers rich experience from his spells with Liverpool, West Ham and Aston Villa, but he is not the player he once was and his wage demands are likely to be substantial at his age.
He is set to turn 35 in the summer and lacking the quality Sunderland will need to climb the table in the second-tier, so Ross should be using demons from the club’s past to divert his attention towards a new generation of talent.
The veteran winger has run his course at this level and, with wounds from Sunderland’s recent history still looming large, Ross and the club’s hierarchy must avoid offering terms to Downing in the summer.