Alex Neil is in with a shot of securing promotion to the second tier after joining the club midway through the campaign to replace Lee Johnson.
The club were unable to fight their way into the automatic places and Kristjaan Speakman may look back at the business done in the market ahead of the season and wonder what he could have done differently.
It was reported, last summer, that the Black Cats were one of the teams in the race to land Welsh centre-forward Sam Vokes from Stoke.
He ended up signing for the club’s rivals, Wycombe, and has enjoyed a phenomenal season for the Choirboys under Gareth Ainsworth.
Former Potters boss Nathan Jones previously dubbed him a “marquee” player and he has lived up to that tag in League One this season.
He has racked up 17 goals and seven assists in the third tier as he has averaged a sublime SofaScore rating of 7.25 across 45 appearances. The experienced forward has won a whopping 10.7 aerial battles per game as he has provided his team with a focal point at the top end of the pitch.
Vokes has consistently delivered in the final third with all-round performances and goal contributions to lead his team to the final of the play-offs. He is capable of finding the back of the net, assisting his teammates, and beating defenders in the air to hold the ball up or win flick-ons for his fellow attackers to run onto.
Ainsworth claimed that it is “ridiculous” that Wycombe have a player of Vokes’ talents and his aforementioned statistics prove that the word sums up his ability at this level. He has been terrific and Sunderland may now be wondering what a striker partnership consisting of him and Ross Stewart would look like.
Instead of him firing in the goals alongside the Scot, he may be scoring the goal that consigns the Black Cats to another season in the third tier on Saturday.
Vokes’ phenomenal form this season proves that Speakman had a howler by failing to snap him up last summer and a telling contribution at Wembley would represent kicking him whilst he is already down.