Sunderland are a club who find themselves going into this new Premier League season in a very different situation to the one they faced when approaching the start of last season.
In July 2008, Roy Keane was in charge and there was tremendous optimism around the club with a new set of expensively purchased talented players looking ready to push Sunderland on and the future did look very bright indeed.
That did not materialise as Sunderland struggled for confidence and form which ultimately lead to the resignation of Roy Keane and in the end his replacement Ricky Sbragia only just managed to keep Sunderland in the Premier League after an nervous struggle right to the final day of the season.
However, events change quickly in football and the new wealthy ownership of the club and the signing of Steve Bruce as manager means Sunderland again come into a new season with an invigorated sense of optimism and yet more belief that Sunderland can progress again.
The fact that new owners have come in with expected funds gives Sunderland the platform and stability they required and the signing of Steve Bruce as manager could well turn out to be the best decision they ever made.
Bruce was a proven winner, leader and inspiration as a player and he has effectively transferred his characteristics of commitment, endeavour, determination and belief to his role as manager, which will stand him in good stead at Sunderland. He looks the perfect manager at this time as he will bring great stability and organisation to the whole set up at Sunderland.
Steve Bruce did a tremendous job at Wigan, turning them into a solid and well-organised side, which could compete with the best in the League, and you have to believe that he will be able to do equally as well if not better at Sunderland.
There can be no doubt that Steve Bruce has got a big job on in terms of re-building the squad and clearly quality in all the keys areas must be added but one of the real strengths of Steve Bruce is his shrewdness in the transfer market and he can be relied upon to get the right players in.
Sunderland do possess some very talented players with the likes of Kieron Richardson, Steed Malbranque and Kenwyn Jones so Steve Bruce will be looking to get them to produce their very best on a consistent basis and add a few more players of that calibre to help build the solid nucleus of key players that he always like to have in his teams.
We expect Steve Bruce to turn Sunderland into a solid, well organised team again, looking to replicate what he did at Wigan by using the intensity and passion that the Sunderland fans provide to make the Stadium of Light somewhere opposing teams are fearful of playing. If that can be achieved then Sunderland should have a fairly comfortable season with hope of more success to come in time.
PREDICTED LEAGUE POSITION:- 11th