Aiden McGeady has opened up about last season's relegation and his new lease of life under Jack Ross as Sunderland bid to win promotion back to the Championship.
The experienced winger was part of the Sunderland squad to suffer the humiliating relegation into the third tier for only the second time in the club's history, a successive relegation for the Black Cats following the drop from the Premier League the year before.
Stewart Donald bought the club from Ellis Short for £40million in the summer and Sunderland have been riding a wave of positivity ever since, with the club second in League One and well placed to bounce straight back.
A key appointment was the arrival of former Hartlepool United defender Jack Ross as manager and McGeady is enjoying life under the Scot.
McGeady told the matchday programme: "A lot of people before the season started asked me if I was going to stay.
"I never had any problems or said I wanted to leave unless it was going to be like last season.
"I didn't enjoy last season. No one did. But if a new manager came in with a base and foundation and said, 'here we go, this is how we are going to do it. We're going to have a go and go straight back up,' then that's completely different and I want to be a part of that.
"I know everyone else does as well.
"There's definitely more optimism around the place. When you look at the first game of the season, I was injured and watched it from the stands, but the feeling in the stadium was completely different to last season.
"I don't think we were helped last campaign with all the things that went on off the pitch.
"Fans came to the games and vented their frustrations at the team and the owners. We weren't playing well either which added to that, but this season has been completely different."
Sunderland drew with Wycombe Wanderers at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, bringing an end to an eight-game winning streak.
McGeady is relishing life under Ross and believes the foundations are in place for a successful campaign.
"Training has been good, it's been enjoyable and fun," added McGeady.
"You can talk to the staff and the manager on a personal level and have a bit of banter with them as opposed to seeing him and just saying, 'there's the manager'.
"I knew him when I played against him in Scotland and I know what I am saying about him is what most people will reflect on as well."
He added: "Fans are starting to come back and we're starting to get very big numbers for League One games. The way we are playing and the results we are getting - hopefully that will only grow.
"There's a lot of optimism around the place at the minute, we are going in the right direction but there is still an awful lot of work to do if we want to achieve our goal of getting promotion and bouncing straight back up."