Steve Bruce’s Sunderland begin their fourth consecutive season in the Premier League against that other noughties yo-yo club, Birmingham City.
After taking over from the beleaguered Ricky Sbragia last summer, the former Wigan Athletic manager steered a squad ravaged by injury to 13th place, and two early cup exits.
While another summer has been/is being spent shearing the squad of its Roy Keane-era high-earners, arrivals have also been forthcoming.
With four young talents set to continue their exciting developments (Jack Colback, Jordan Henderson, David Meyler and Martyn Waghorn), and Darren Bent aware now is the time for more permanent England duties, the Black Cats must target a Europa League spot.
2009/10 begin in a blaze of pre-season friendlies. Chief among them was the game against eventual Europa League victors, Atlético Madrid, which Sunderland won 2-0. Continue reading