Rowell Report: I can’t wait for the big kick-off

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist.
Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist.
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THIS weekend’s game against Fulham cannot come quickly enough for me.

The summer break has been long enough now and I’m sure I’m not the only one in need of a Premier League fix!

With the pre-season training and friendly games over at last, the real action can get under way and Sunderland’s new look team can be unveiled in front of our own fans.

There might not have been any Premier League games over these last few months, but Sunderland have often been in the news with a string of summer signings and a high profile tournament played in Hong Kong.

Lots of new signings always create interest.

But although they have played a few friendlies, I’ll reserve my judgement on them until I see them when it really counts – in Premier League action.

Despite the new arrivals, our manager is of course the highest profile individual at the club and I expect he will be the focus of the most air-time and media interest, as has been the case since he joined.

Paolo Di Canio did the short-term job asked of him last season, when he kept us up and he still has lots of credit in the bank after that unforgettable 3-0 win away to Newcastle.

Ellis Short though will want a lot more than a relegation battle this time around and it remains to be seen if Di Canio can deliver in the long term.

Just because you make a good start doesn’t automatically mean it will continue – just ask Martin O’Neill that.

O’Neill started his Sunderland career on fire but when it all went pear-shaped pretty quickly and there weren’t too many dissenting voices when he was sacked.

So what is expected of Sunderland this season?

For me, a minimum mid-table finish is hardly unrealistic and a trip to Wembley wouldn’t go amiss.

So I see a fascinating season ahead and I for one can’t wait for it to begin.

Fulham are first up this weekend and I’m sure our fans can roar the team on to the three points that wouldn get our season off to a flier.