Sunderland fan blog: This is what the retained list told us about Lee Johnson's plans

For a third time in succession, it just feels like another one of those seasons, where Sunderland just haven't done enough to clinch their ultimate target: promotion.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 11:07 am

In 2019 it was the disastrous play-off final defeat to Charlton, 2020 was the season of the controversial points-per-game ratio, but this season feels worse.

Saturday's play-off semi-final defeat to Lincoln City at the Stadium of Light brought their season to an end - a season in which the damage was arguably already done before Lee Johnson s arrival as head coach.

Missed chances, shambolic refereeing performances and the failure to capitalise on dragging themselves back into the game all proving decisive in who would play Blackpool on Sunday at Wembley.

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Carl Winchester and Aiden McGeady at the end of the Lincoln City game
Carl Winchester and Aiden McGeady at the end of the Lincoln City game

But, despite this, there was hope. Hope for the future.

Overheard by the boos filtering in the stadium was applause for the effort and desire that the players had shown to try and pull themselves back into the tie.

This was when Sunderland showed their true meaning and purpose - the one that was shone so brightly within the Netflix documentary: the fans.

Boardroom failures have cost the Black Cats in recent tenures, with Kyril Louis-Dreyfus needing to steady the ship and push the Wearsiders into a thriving position, and back to where they ultimately belong.

Louis-Dreyfus is looking for the club to have a long-term sustainability plan behind the scenes and a team that on the field gives the fans something to shout about on a Saturday afternoon and be proud of.

Pace, physicality and a bold outlook are just a couple of things that need to be translated onto the pitch, with the retained list portraying just the task that the senior figures have during a significant summer period.

Players that have been consistently around the squad over the past couple of seasons are gone, with Johnson calling out for a fresh outlook on his Sunderland - a Sunderland that can hopefully learn from their errors both on the pitch and off it.

If he wants to do that, he requires players with invention and creativity, because if anything, Sunderland desperately need promotion next season.

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