Lee Johnson has confirmed that Sunderland will be making changes during the summer transfer window.
The Black Cats had their season ended on Saturday afternoon after falling to a 3-2 aggregate defeat to Lincoln City at the Stadium Of Light.
While supporters returned to watch their team for the first time in over a year it will be the Imps that will take on Blackpool at Wembley Stadium next weekend for a spot in the Championship.
For Sunderland this defeat means that it’s time to regroup.
The Wearsiders have a number of high-profile players out of contract this summer including the likes of Lee Burge, Luke O’Nien, Chris Maguire, Aiden McGeady and Charlie Wyke, and while Lee Johnson wouldn’t be drawn on the future of individuals, he was open in saying that the club will face a big challenge in terms of recruitment.
Quoted by the Sunderland Echo, Johnson said: “There’s going to be a natural evolution of the squad now.
“Some players will have played their last game there today for various reasons. Some we may want to keep but can’t afford to, some we might not want and will want to move on, and others we might want to retain and will give them our best offer.
” It’s a sad day because you do build a rapport with these players, but the club has also showed today the potential power we’ve got – the pressing game we played in the first half, the attitude from the fans to get our pressing game going.
“That as 10,000, I can’t wait to see what it’s like when there’s 42,000 in there. I thought the boys gave everything, and that’s obviously a minimum standard, and we played well on the day too.
“You’ve got to give credit to Lincoln for a fantastic season – they’ve used the loan market very well. I think our recruitment becomes the difference, to be honest with you. That is the summer challenge – to make sure, potentially on a slightly reduced budget, that we actually recruit very well.”
Johnson added: “We will set down and reflect on the season, and have some really honest conversations and be brutally honest about what went well and what didn’t go well. There’ll be changes.
“It’s inevitable there’ll be changes, and the test will be whether we can make those changes for the better.
“Football’s not in a great place, and that could work for us or it could work against us. Inevitably, we’ll be judged by the quality of our recruitment in the summer.”
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The hard work for next season starts now for Sunderland.
Losing to Lincoln City was gut-wrenching for the near-10,000 supporters who made it to the Stadium Of Light but unfortunately it’s going to be a case of going back to the drawing board.
Several big players are likely to move on but the hope now is that Kristjaan Speakman and the recruitment team can sign talented, but cost-effective players to help the team go one step further next term.
Something big is happening for Sunderland right now and the feeling is that this is just the start for their new regime.