New era beckons at the Stadium of Light.
1. Nikica Jelavic
What a difference a new manager and a last minute victory make.
Under Steve Bruce, Sunderland managed just two home wins in 2011. When he departed, they were in the relegation zone.
Martin O’Neill is his replacement, and following the 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers the atmosphere is now buoyant.
However, while there are few coaches with a better reputation for man management or motivation, the Northern Irishman’s transfer business has come in for some criticism.
His detractors have accused him of poor buying and excessive spending on wages, but he has certainly had his successes.
Ashley Young was a great buy, as were the likes of Stiliyan Petrov and Brad Friedel, but Aston Villa fans will view the £8.5m splurged on Nigel Reo-Coker as a tragicomedy.
Because Asamoah Gyan on loan at Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates, Connor Wickham, Nicklas Bendtner and Ji Dong-Wan are the only senior strikers at the Stadium of Light.
Nikica Jelavic has scored 33 goals since joining Rangers for £4m, and could prove useful for Sunderland.
After his spell at Celtic, O’Neill has not been afraid to look to the SPL for player recruitment, bringing Petrov, Shaun Maloney, and Carlos Cuellar to Aston Villa.
Perhaps Jelavic will be the next name on that list.