The 2016/17 Premier League season concludes tomorrow. Sunderland will not return to the big league in August. Lots of over-paid footballers will depart the club and lots of cheaper ones will replace them. But maintaining at least a core of those who can do a job in the Championship is generally a pre-requisite for promotion. Saying that, at this rate barely anyone is likely to stay at the club.
Seems we've seen the back of many of the 'faces' in Sunderland's 2016/17 relegation squad already. 11 of them are out with assorted 'dead legs' and 'knocks' for tomorrow's trip to Chelsea. If you see any of them out shopping for swimming trunks over the weekend, be sure to boo them.
De-motivated, lack-lustre, gutless, shambolic, over-paid players have taken to the pitch in red-and-white this season and embarrassed the club with a limp to relegation.
Some of these players are just fakes, attracted to a Premier League wage over and above their ability. Somehow they've wangled a move to Sunderland based on an agent's sales pitch based on past glories, unidentifiable potential or desire to prove themselves.
Some are weak-willed and will never amount to much. Found out in the heat of a relegation battle, they'll vanish to some obscure foreign team and find their natural level.
But some of them in the squad, Sunderland might like to keep. Some of them will do very nicely thank you in the Championship and most sides who bounce straight back from relegation do so with a nucleus of decent players carried over from the previous Premier League campaign.
Sunderland will announce their 'Retained List' within the next week or so. The annual announcement of who is staying and who is leaving. It's a bit of an outmoded thing. In the olden days it would be accompanied by the 'Transfer List' containing those the club were happy to move on for a fee. But the Bosman ruling changed all that and those at the end of their contract now leave for free regardless of being 'on the list'.
John O'Shea and Billy Jones are the two to have committed to Sunderland. The former is out of contract this summer and will stay if he's asked and the latter will come to the end of his deal next year.
Captain O'Shea knows he won't get a bigger club and he wants to go to the 2018 World Cup with Ireland. So naturally he will have been knocking on David Moyes' door asking for a new deal. On the subject, the 35-year-old recently said:
Billy Jones will get no better than Sunderland either but he's happy to be here, telling the Echo:
It’s a great place and the people around the place, the club, the Sunderland family outside and inside, whether at the training ground or Black Cats House, the decency among the people is very special. It’s something I definitely want to continue with. But it’s not up to me.
I have a season left and when my time comes to an end at Sunderland, I want to be part of hopefully a promotion. I’ve got that one season to do that. Now I’ve got that one season to hopefully do that.
Whether Sunderland can do better than Jones at right-back, well you would like to think so.
As for the rest.
Well, Victor Anichebe didn't sound bothered and he's already announced to the world on social media that he's packed up his Quayside flat.
Steven Pienaar said a few weeks ago that he reckons he can squeeze another year out of his knackered body but likely no one was listening.
Seb Larsson has been linked with a move to Italy but on the subject of Sunderland he has been completely non-committal.
Papy Djilobodji gave everyone a good laugh when he announced he believes he can stay in the Premier League. The Senegalese misfit even suggested he has a team of agents working on this ambition. No one will be that stupid surely?
Bryan Oviedo made vague references to ensuring the club gets promoted next season but stopped short of including himself in his definition of "club".
Vito Mannone made his intentions pretty clear by gate-crashing Jermain Defoe's lap of honour in the final home game of the season. The memo to Vito reminding him we've said 'thanks' many times since the 2014 cup run - and we've nowt left to thank him for really - mustn't have reached Mannone Towers.
Jermain Defoe is obviously away and has been in his head since February and Fabio Borini probably never wanted to return in the first place so his two-years back here have been too long for him already.
As for the rest - who knows.
Even Moyesy isn't sure of staying. That will depend on what Uncle Ellis tells him next week. The Sunderland manager will meet Short in London hoping for some of those famous Missourian 'assurances' over transfer funds which have unstuck him already and several of his predecessors.
Moyes even joked he wouldn't need anything in writing. Naive.
So that's it. At this rate, there'll be thee, me, Jonesy and John. Sounds like a 60's pop group.