Despite Saturday’s relegation from the Premiership, Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy is confident he can turn things around at the club and secure a quick return to the top flight. Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Birmingham confirmed the season's worst kept secret as the Black Cats slipped back into the Nationwide League with barely a whimper, but with their new manager insisting there is hope for the future.
McCarthy knew from day one that relegation was almost inevitable, although he will be desperately disappointed that it arrived just four games into his reign with a first victory still out of his grasp.
He was also made fully aware of the dire financial situation in which the club find themselves, some £26.6million in debt having recorded a loss of £4.8million for the six months to January 31 and with a further shortfall anticipated before a huge drop in television revenue next season.
The net result is that the wage bill will have to be drastically trimmed and the family jewels sold off if the Wearsiders are to make ends meet.
However, McCarthy said: “I came into it with my eyes open. I was aware of the issues, but I feel I can get it right. Like every other manager, given the right circumstances, if I can do the right deals during the summer to enable me to get money in to turn things around as regards as the players we get in, players that are hopefully going to play 40 games a season and not have such a big injury list, which quite clearly has affected this club, I'm confident we can turn it around.”
McCarthy will have his work cut out as he attempts to trim his squad while assembling a group of players good enough to fight their way out of the Division One. But Jimmy Montgomery, hero of the 1973 FA Cup Final, has warned that their stay in the Nationwide League could be a lengthy one if they do not return to the top flight at the first attempt.
The former goalkeeper lays the blame for the club's demise firmly at the feet of Peter Reid's spending last summer, and in particular, the double swoop for Tore Andre Flo and Marcus Stewart ahead of the closure of the August transfer window.
Montgomery said: “They just brought it on themselves really, the way it's been handled. They gave Peter Reid £20million to spend at the wrong time. They say it wasn't panic buying, but it was the last week of the deadline and they were third-bottom - if that's not panic buying, I don't know what is. They bought at the wrong time.”
Filed by Johnny Proby