Sunderland’s season was truly a story of two halves.
New signings Bolo Zenden, Titus Bramble and Asamoah Gyan has bedded in well, while the acquisition of Frazier Campbell and the loan deal for Danny Welbeck gave the Black Cats and exciting attacking option.
Manager Steve Bruce had carved out a reputation for his team as being very tough to beat, summed up in draws with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.
The highlight of the season was the 3-1 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge that had fans calling for Europe.
The undoubted low the 5-1 humiliation at the hands of neighbours and arch-rivals Newcastle United.
In January, the club was riding high in sixth place and fans were looking up towards Europe and maybe an outside chance of Champions League football (they were only six points off fourth after 21 games).
But then came the turning point of the season. Darren Bent, out of the blue, submitted a transfer request amid reports of a bid of £18million from Aston Villa.
The deal was completed, which could eventually rise to £24million, and Sunderland’s hopes were turned on their heads.
A shocking injury list put the Wearsiders on a run of 10 points from their final 14 games – with six coming from the last three matches.
This left Black cat fans not looking up but fearing what was beneath them.
Relegation soon became a serious proposition with sides below picking up points.
But thanks to their rally at the end, Sunderland finished in a very respectable 10th place but Bruce knew he had major re-building work to do this summer.