Wise Men Say: So much promise in the team shows Sunderland must move forward

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After Saturday against Chelsea, it would have been a tragedy for Sunderland had we not completed our fourth Great Escape in as many seasons.

That Chelsea performance and result was something special – the quality of the goals, the manner of the victory and most notably the atmosphere.

But had we somehow managed to mess it all up and dropped down to The Championship, it would have counted for absolutely nothing.

The Lads took to the field against Everton with the same purpose, energy and quality shown just four days earlier and completed the job.

Why did we ever doubt them?

Now, I’m not going to get carried away. We still need to strengthen in the summer and add quality to the squad.

However, if you look at our record since the turn of the year we’ve taken 26 points from 18 games.

Based on the Premier League table this season, that would have seen us sitting comfortably mid-table over the first half of the season.

After our annual relegation escape, we often discuss the idea of overhauling the squad.

Get rid of the deadwood and bring top players in. We’ve found it practically impossible for a number of reasons. This time though, we don’t.

We had our overhaul in January. It was done without fuss or bluster. There were no claims that we’d ‘won’ the transfer window.

Players that had been here for too long and contributed too little were out.

The squad was leaner, the players seemed happier and the new additions were quality.

It was somewhat fitting that Lamine Kone emphatically dispatched two Wahbi Khazri corners to seal our survival.

They’ve been immense in the last four months and at the end of the game, you can see just how much it meant to them.

They probably didn’t really know what to expect when they arrived on Wearside, but they performed instantly.

We gave them our encouragement and they appear to have thrived on it.

Jan Kirchhoff was as cool in his post match interview on Wednesday as he is under pressure in midfield.

He wears a smile like he knows he’s been given a second chance after all of those injuries in the previous couple of years.

He’s taken that chance and we’ve been lucky enough to witness a very gracious footballer in action.

He’s so easy on the eye. Just how good can he be next year after a good pre-season?

There’s so much promise in this team. There’s so much to like about them.

They play with smiles and they play for each other. They’ve played for us and in the last two home games in particular and we’ve responded.

This time around we seem to have the right players and the right manager.

It’s going to be a massive summer and we need to make sure we strengthen properly. Quality, not quantity.

I’m sure we were all thinking it would be ‘typical Sunderland’ come Wednesday night.

We’ve always got that in us. But maybe, just maybe, we’re starting to move away from that.

I guess we’ll see next season. In the Premier League.

* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from Sam Allardyce. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes