Sunderland fans deliver mixed verdict on promotion hopes at fourth attempt as Lee Johnson looks to revamp squad
Lee Johnson is tasked with leading Sunderland to promotion from League One next season at the fourth time of asking – but fans have delivered a mixed verdict on how confident they are.
The play-off semi-final exit to Lincoln City condemned the Black Cats to another season in the third tier and with the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham joining them next season, it will be harder than ever to win promotion.
But that is the task facing Johnson and his revamped Sunderland squad. Several senior first team players will be released when their contracts officially expire at the end of this month, with central midfield in particular needing a full rebuild with Grant Leadbitter, Max Power and Josh Scowen all departing.
A big task awaits Johnson & Co then and there will be pressure from the off with competition high for promotion.
We asked Sunderland fans how confident they were feeling as part of our Big SAFC Survey, with more than 1,300 readers taking part.
They delivered a mixed verdict on promotion hopes for the 2021-22 campaign.
We asked are you confident Sunderland will win promotion next season?
A majority of fans – 57.6% – said they were but a sizeable number said they were not, 42.4%. An indication of how confidence has sapped on Wearside, perhaps, after three years now at League One level.
We also asked supporters which position would Sunderland finish next season?
Just over a fifth – 21.6% – believed Sunderland would go up as champions of League One, with 41.1% confident of a top two finish.
Meanwhile, 30% of fans that responded to our Big SAFC Survey believed a play-off place was a more realistic option.
Johnson & Co face a busy few weeks as they look to build a squad capable of maintaining a consistent promotion push.
Supporters had to watch the 2020-21 campaign from their homes with games streamed due to the Covid-19 restrictions which meant fans were not allowed inside games, until the play-off fixture.
We asked readers what impact that had, playing behind-closed-doors?
A whopping 75.5% thought it had a major impact on Sunderland given the size of the crowd the players are usually used to playing in front of, meanwhile, 24.5% thought it had no impact at all.