Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Remember the Past. Just Don't Repeat It' Is the Big Plan; THE PREVIEW: Sunderland V Norwich 7.45pm, Stadium of Light

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Remember the Past. Just Don't Repeat It' Is the Big Plan; THE PREVIEW: Sunderland V Norwich 7.45pm, Stadium of Light

Article excerpt

Byline: STUART RAYNER Sports Writer

DESPITE all the question marks hanging over the Stadium of Light, the planning for next season is under way.

The guiding principle Chris Coleman will follow is as good as it is basic - "We just need to look and see what's happened in the last five years, and do the opposite!" Sunderland do not yet know which division they will be playing in next season, although even before Tuesday's visit of Norwich City, they can have a fair guess.

It has delayed contract talks with those whose deals expire imminently, but is not a massive problem. "If we're rebuilding from this league or the league below there are still changes that need to be made and it won't really change a lot," Coleman said on Saturday.

As for who the owner will be, that is far less clear-cut.

Apparently there are quite a few interested in taking the club off reluctant owner Ellis Short's hands but we have been here before, last summer.

Whether they have the wherewithal the indebted club needs, we will have to wait and see.

That is "draining" Sunderland's manager.

Already, though, Coleman has started speaking to agents, drawing up two plans - one for their impoverished circumstances, one based on a cash injection. This time last year David Moyes was talking about planning for next season even with relegation looming.

But the day after the 2016-17 campaign ended he handed in his resignation after being told he would have what in football terms was a spare-change-down-the-back-ofthe-sofa budget. His departure was not widely mourned. If Coleman is to jump ship too, his protestations to the contrary have been Oscar-worthy. While that is encouraging, the attitude of those he is targeting is just as heartening.

"We've already started planning for next season in terms of recruitment" he revealed. "A lot of people we talk to, they say, 'Yeah' and they're excited because it's Sunderland, but they want to know where we're going to be and who's going to be in charge of the club.

A lot of players are very excited and they want to come here, which is great. They want to come no matter what league we're in.

"But it is very sticky because of the uncertainty.

"Until we know who's above us and they can say, 'You've got this,' or 'You haven't got it,' it's difficult. Even if the answer is that we haven't got it, at least we know where we are. At the moment we have a Plan A and Plan B. "Until we know which direction we're heading (in terms of ownership, more so than division), it's draining for everybody. Everybody is waiting and waiting."

How long they can wait is unclear. The only takeovers that happen quickly tend to be bad ones, and English football has committed to a shorter summer 2018 transfer window (in the Football League it will not extend to loans or overseas sales) to minimise in-season disruption. …

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