KIERAN Richardson believes Sunderland followers should be eagerly awaiting the prospect of next season.
The anti-climax to an eventful campaign for the Black Cats continued at the Stadium of Light on Saturday after Sunderland’s failure to beat basement boys Wolves.
While left-back Richardson insists Sunderland remain focused on a top-eight finish, he senses the expectations for next year, when boss Martin O’Neill has had a chance to strengthen during the summer.
Richardson said: “When we look back at what has happened this season, what with the manager coming in and doing so well, I think the fans will look forward to next season to see what the gaffer is going to do.
“It is so important to keep the momentum going over the last four games.
“We want to feel as high as possible. We are trying to finish in eighth position, which is better than last season when we were 10th.
“If we can get eighth then that’s progress from last time around. We are definitely looking to get there as long as it is possible.
“Who do we need to improve the team? That’s a question for the manager.
“He’s the one who picks the team so he will know the answer to that one.
“All I can say is that no matter whom he picks, we will go out there and do our best for Sunderland.”
Sunderland were indebted to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for preventing Wolves striker Steven Fletcher inflicting an even more damaging result as Terry Connor’s men ended a 30-game streak without a clean sheet.
But Richardson, pictured, dismissed claims Wolves should have been cannon fodder for O’Neill’s side, even if they are on a collision course with the Championship.
“Wolves are fighting for survival, so perhaps it was always going to be a hard game,” added the 27-year-old.
“I find that sometimes playing the bottom teams is more difficult than facing sides near the top of the league.
“We had a few chances during the game that we didn’t manage to take and now we have to move on and the next aim is to beat Aston Villa away.
“Simon Mignolet made a great save and, to be fair, the lads at the back have been pretty solid all season. Whoever has been in there has done really well.
“We are a bit disappointed how their guy got in for the header Simon had to save, but that happens.
“We worked hard, but we just couldn’t get that goal.”