Richard Mennear: Where would Sunderland have been if Dick Advocaat had retired at the end of last season?

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It was good to see former Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat make his return to football this week.

Fondly remembered on Wearside for his efforts in keeping the Black Cats up against the odds last season, he has now joined Feyenoord’s technical staff as an advisor to his former player Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

It is understood he will be working unpaid until the end of the season as he looks to help van Bronckhorst get struggling Feyenoord back firing.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but where would Sunderland have been if Advocaat had stuck by his original decision to retire at the end of the last campaign?

Imagine if Sam Allardyce had been appointed manager and given the summer to get rid of the deadwood and bring in the likes of Lamine Kone and Wahbi Khazri then.

Sunderland would be comfortably mid-table, I’d bet.

Sadly, we’ll never know the answer to those questions.

Instead, Advocaat performed a dramatic U-turn and decided to stay but Sunderland couldn’t bring in the talent needed to transform the squad.

By October, Advocaat had resigned, stating the Sunderland squad wasn’t good enough to stay up. Maybe he was right.

But Allardyce has managed to revamp the squad mid-season, with Kone, Khazri, Jan Kirchhoff and Dame N’Doye all coming in and Jordi Gomez, Will Buckley, Liam Bridcutt, Danny Graham, Steven Fletcher and Costel Pantilimon departing.

The big question is do Sunderland have enough time to drag themselves out of trouble again?

Recent signs have been positive.

The squad that started the season probably wasn’t good enough to stay up but the current crop have shown they are.