Sam Allardyce says it will be vital for Sunderland to make a good start to next season if they are to avoid another relegation scrap.
Allardyce arrived at the Stadium of Light last October to take charge of a team that had gathered three points from their first 10 matches of the season to leave the Black Cats firmly rooted to the foot of the table.
While the former West Ham and Bolton boss was able to save Sunderland from the drop, the near-miss with relegation to the Championship has got Allardyce thinking about how he can improve the Wearsiders’ fortunes in future.
As well as conducting an overhaul of the playing staff, Allardyce believes a good start to next season could be key in making sure the 2016/17 campaign is not another nail-bitter.
I wouldnt want to go through what I went through when I first got here, said the Sunderland boss. You would strive very hard to make sure our first five games are our most important next year.
The challenge to the team that starts next season – whatever we do recruitment-wise, business-wise, player-wise is that the team starts off by winning two or three of the first five, not losing them which they have done for the last four seasons.
If you lose those games, you know then it always becomes the inevitable relegation struggle. If you do not win any of the first five, what a struggle it becomes after that.