Sunderland fans think the club face an uphill battle to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt next season.
With uncertainty over the ownership of the club and the managerial process taking longer than hoped to resolve, making a fast start will be a difficult challenge.
The Black Cats are expecting a major turnover of players this summer but with David Moyes resigning after the end of the season, clubs have the opportunity to steal a march on the Wearside outfit.
As such, over 40% of fans who took the Echo’s annual survey expect the club to end the 2017/8 campaign in mid-table, with a further 17% anticipating a bottom half finish.
40% believe Sunderland can finish in the play-offs or higher, with a £44 million parachute payment cushioning the financial blow of being relegated.
Attentions are swiftly turning towards the major rebuild required this summer and fans have had their say on what the Black Cats need to do next.
Addressing chronic deficiencies up front is understandably seen as the biggest priority, with over half of those polled saying it is the area which needs strengthening the most.
Jermain Defoe’s impending departure for Bournemouth leaves the club without their only reliable source of goals, with Victor Anichebe and Patrick van Aanholt, who left the club for Crystal Palace in January, joint second top scorers with three. Sunderland’s other main striker, Fabio Borini, netted only twice.
Rebuilding that front line, and indeed the rest of the side, will not come cheap if Sunderland are to stand any chance of bouncing back and the majority of Sunderland fans feel an investment of at least £30 million is required. Most of that would likely come from funds raised from the sale of key assets as Sunderland seek to bring their wage bill down to levels sustainable in the Championship.
Joel Asoro’s comments last week that he may have to look elsewhere for first team football will disappoint fans who voted him as the player they most want to see break through into the first team set-up next season.
Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman also featured prominently in that poll, the latter boosting his reputation with a superb showing in a rare away win at Hull, leading to him signing a new two-year deal with the club.