MARTIN O’Neill has already begun work on re-shaping his squad for next season, with Nicklas Bendtner shown the exit door early at the Stadium of Light yesterday.
The on-loan Arsenal striker wasn’t in the starting 11 for the final-day game against Manchester United and didn’t even make the subs’ bench.
When questioned about the Dane’s absence, O’Neill’s curt response was: “Nicklas Bendtner? I chose not to pick him.”
Bendtner will not be at Sunderland next season – something which will suit both Sunderland and the striker – and there will be plenty more comings and goings this summer.
Before kick-off, he tweeted: “Good game to the lads. I wish them well. I will not be playing today unfortunately. Thanks for the support thruout the season it has been Fantastisk.. I hope the best for SAFC.”
O’Neill said: “I know we have a lot to do and next season starts here for me. You can see clearly we have work to do and there are a variety of issues to address.
“We’ll take time to reflect on that and then move on as quickly as possible.”
But the manager was quick to insist that, despite a record of only two wins in the last 15 games underlining the vital need to strengthen this summer, he has no complaints or criticisms to make of the squad which completed the 2011/12 season in 13th – dropping two places yesterday as Norwich and Swansea climbed above the Black Cats.
“I’m delighted with the team,” he said. “Absolutely delighted.
“The season has gone now and we can put it to rest. It may be – though I didn’t think so at the time – that the Everton game in the cup, losing that, hit us and had an effect.
“But this stadium will be hosting Premier League football next season and that’s all that counted to me when I first came in. It’s all I could ask for.
“I’m not here to make excuses – we are where we are.
“We finished off the season without winning too many games after getting past the winning post in terms of staying up we’ve faded away a bit.
“But I’m delighted with what the squad gave us since we came into the club as a management team and we’ve achieved the goal of not only getting out of the relegation zone and staying up but we’ve done it comfortably with many weeks to spare.”