After the hangover, Sunderland wakes up to reality

Following another flirtation with relegation, Sunderland was spared the drop from the Premier League when it beat Everton, 3-0, on Wednesday. The win set off wild celebrations at the Stadium of Light, but begged the question, should the Black Cats be celebrating a 17th-place finish?

Sam Allardyce is the architect of Sunderland's latest escape, hired in October when it had just three points after eight games. He woke up to a hangover on Thursday and addressed the reality of the situation -- the Black Cats won't even match last season when they finished 16th.

"We have to move away from the fact that we’re all so happy at being heroes for surviving," he said. "We have to think much bigger, have much more ambition.”

Sunderland also must also accept the reality that it is losing lots of money. Last year's accounts, recently released, confirmed pre-tax losses of almost $37 million for the fiscal year that ended July 3, 2015. And that was before Sunderland's latest spending -- $32 million during the summer of 2015 and another $25 million in January.

Three of the four January signings -- German Jan Kirchhoff, Ivorian  Lamine Kone and Tunisian Wahbi Khazri -- started when Sunderland beat Everton -- Kone had two of the goals -- so the moves paid off, at least in the short term.

The good news is that Sunderland should have even more money to spend next season as the money from the new EPL TV deals kick in. The bad news: its rivals will have equal opportunity to spend those funds.

Allardyce says he'll sit down with American owner Ellis Short  to determine how the Black Cats can get out of the crisis mode in which they have operated. (Only one of their nine EPL campaigns did not involve a relegation battle.)

“The owner has been searching for something different for so many years and has not found it,” said Allardyce on Thursday. “That’s why there has been so many changes and those changes haven’t solved the problem. Hopefully, I can."

One of Allardyce's first tasks will be to determine whom he will keep for next season, beginning with his loan players. That includes American DeAndre Yedlin, who has started the last 13 games at right back. Sunderland lost only two of those games and conceded only 13 goals, so Yedlin has a strong case to make that he should stay -- if Sunderland can pry him away from Tottenham.

"I don’t think there’s any point in leaving players hanging," said Allardyce. "That’s one of the jobs I have to get through pretty quickly. It is worth talking to them if we are taking them forward with us in the next couple of days. What are we doing with those we already have? Whether they are on loan or under contract whether they are not happy about not having as much game time as they wanted. We will see."
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