David Jones: Dick Advocaat can now finish the great work he’d started at Sunderland

Dick Advocaat.
Dick Advocaat.
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Persuading Dick Advocaat to stay has got to be just about the best piece of business Sunderland have pulled off for some time.

I imagine I wasn’t alone in feeling instantly more optimistic about next season the minute the news broke.

It was becoming increasingly clear that Sunderland has put all their eggs in one basket with the Dutchman, and with the clock starting to tick, there were no other names leaping off the page of any great excitement.

Depending on who you believe Sean Dyche was in the sights – and for the record my sources in Lancashire tell me no approach was made – but perhaps that move was forthcoming before Advocaat had the change of heart.

But Sunderland moved again for a man who’s already worn the suit and as we all know it seems the perfect fit.

It’s great news on many levels.

Firstly, Advocaat will carry into next season the momentum of his short time in charge which proved so successful.

He has won the trust of the board and the fans who were desperate to see him prolong his stay at the Stadium of Light.

The tears he shed on the pitch at the Emirates stadium won him enduring affection with the Wearside public to go with the admiration he’d already built up.

The players bought into his methods in the short term and now he must convince them those same principles of hard work and organisation drilled into them on the windy fields of the Academy of Light can have the same impact over the long term.

A new man would have been starting cold, might have needed a month or more of pre-season to work out just what he had at his disposal and what he would need to give himself a fighting chance.

No such problem for Advocaat, who has already handed his shopping list to Lee Congerton.

And when they go into the transfer market Sunderland now have the advantage of tempting new recruits with a manager they will have heard of, possessing a CV they can’t fail to be impressed by.

The timing is perfect too.

I feared a manager search being drawn out for weeks and seeing precious time lost in the competitive trading market place.

Now Sunderland should be at the front of the queue and with a bit of luck, will have new players signed and sealed before too long.

Those early weeks on the training ground can often set the tone for the season ahead and next time round Sunderland simply have to come out fighting.

So what do we need?

Honestly, there is room for improvement in every area of the squad moving forward but we’ve seen before how damaging mass recruiting can be, and besides there will be a limited budget to work to.

Advocaat and Congerton must prioritise and I agree in principle with the policy of adding real quality to the group to have maximum impact.

Every new signing has got to make a difference and raise standards.

Ultimately, both centre halves will need replacing, but quality in that position is hard to come by, Sebastian Coates on a permanent deal from Liverpool would be a start.

The midfield area last season was desperately short on class, that would be my focus.

The forward areas need a reshuffle: Connor Wickham and Jermain Defoe won’t be going anywhere on their contracts, but this might be the end of the road for Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham.

If Advocaat wants to continue with his version of 4-3-3, goal scoring widemen will surely be near the top of his list.

Fabio Borini anyone? Maybe a year on the sidelines at Anfield has sharpened his appetite for the challenge and lowered his price.

Let’s sit back, enjoy the speculation and see what the club delivers, but rest assured, this summer has had a damn good start.