Rowell Report: A top ten hit

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
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HAPPY new season to everyone and here we go again. The summer is over now and we can all look forward to the start of the season.

Sunderland’s aim has to be to get back in the top 10, particularly if they want to keep growing as this global brand we keep hearing about.

Last season, Sunderland took a step backwards by ending up in 13th after finishing 10th the season before.

The end of the season fizzled out, but hopefully we can hit the ground running this time around.

And with the exception of the Arsenal game where anything will be a bonus, the first six games as a whole provide a decent start.

There are points to be had and I would be disappointed if Sunderland were not in the top 10 after those games.

Martin O’Neill came in and did an incredible job last season, but it was asking a hell of a lot to keep it going until the end of the season.

Finishing 13th was a bit harsh in a way, but I am expecting Sunderland to be challenging towards the bottom reaches of the top half.

That is a realistic aim if we want to be an elite Premier League club.

Finishing in the top 10 and enjoying a decent cup run is pretty much the benchmark for Sunderland. It would be easy to say we’ll be challenging for the Champions League, but that’s not realistic.

But the Everton game last season showed how much the Wearside public love a cup run.

If there was one game I would love to do all over again, it would be that quarter final replay with Everton because we went into it on such a high and the players just didn’t turn up.

It just showed how special the FA Cup can be.