WITH the average Premier League manager’s reign now lasting just 379 days (if you exclude Arsene Wenger’s 17 years), it feels a little presumptuous to ponder what the next year at SAFC might hold in store for Gus Poyet.
But there’s certainly a feeling that the Uruguayan, who signed a new two-year deal in the summer, has every chance of seeing that contract out.
If there was a high-water mark where Poyet might have left Sunderland or Sunderland sacked Poyet, that period is now gone.
The time for Poyet to seek a move would have been the summer with his reputation high and both Spurs, then Southampton, looking for a manager, while West Ham were rumoured to be ready to ditch Sam Allardyce,
If Sunderland were tempted to part company with him, it would have been after the 5-1 defeat to Spurs in April when Poyet acknowledged that Premier League survival was all but impossible, is believed to have offered his resignation and then went on to mutter about dark forces being at work within the club.
Sunderland, commendably, wanted him to stay.
And, in the summer, Poyet decided he wanted to as well, when he committed himself to the club until 2016.
It now feels like both have very much thrown their lot in with each other and it is the club that is likely to benefit from that.
Upon signing the new deal, Poyet commented: “Stability is absolutely key to long-term and sustained success for any football club.”
And it looks increasingly likely that stability is what Sunderland will enjoy over the next 12 months.
Popular Poyet has a lot of respect in the bank with Black Cats’ fans after what he achieved last season, while chairman Ellis Short, despite the occasional rumour to the contrary, shows no sign of wanting to leave the club he took over in 2008.
Together, Poyet and Short held their nerve and accomplished the first and biggest goal of staying up.
This season feels as though it will be all about slow and steady progress rather than tempest and tumult.
Ultimately there may be tension between coach and owner further down the road if Poyet finds the funds insufficient to mount a challenge on the higher reaches of the Premier League.
But, for the moment, the club’s aspirations are a little more mundane than that: survive again and improve.
And the early signs are that Sunderland are well on their way to doing both.
Poyet’s 2014-15 squad looks much better equipped to survive in the top flight this season than they did the last, despite the unwanted losses of Phil Bardsley and Jack Colback and the failure to capture Fabio Borini and Marcos Alonso.
Sunderland’s goalkeeping, to give just one example, such an important and under-rated position on the pitch, could hardly be better served than by two stoppers of the calibre of Vito Mannone and Costel Pantilimon.
And how many clubs in the bottom half of the Premier League could leave £30m worth of talent on the bench, including two £10m men, Adam Johnson and Jack Rodwell, as Sunderland did last week?
The squad could certainly be improved.
And no doubt Poyet will look to do that in the January transfer window.
But Sunderland look to have bought well in the summer and that work has been bolstered by the developing promise of players he inherited a year ago, like Connor Wickham, Lee Cattermole and Steven Fletcher.
Last summer, Poyet’s predecesssor, Paolo Di Canio, promised Sunderland fans (wrongly): “a season without suffering.”
In this next year in charge, it feels as though that’s exactly what Poyet might deliver to the club’s supporters.
And for Sunderland Football Club – after all the topsy-turvy form and chopping and recent changing of managers from Steve Bruce to Martin O’Neill to Paolo Di Canio – that would represent progress.