In January of this year Sunderland sold Darren Bent to Aston Villa for a fee near $38 million and then did just enough to stay in the Premier League. Following Bent's sale the team went into a downward spiral that was led by the inconsistant second half of the season by Asamoah Gyan. This has been a team many thought would go down, while at the beginning of the '10-'11 season others expected the Black Cats to push for a European place.
Earlier this summer they cashed in on Jordan Henderson selling him for $25 million to Liverpool; a foolish move in my opinon on Liverpool's part. The club has now used part of that $63 million kitty to bring in quality Premier League performers and a promising young talent.
With the summer signings already made by Sunderland I believe they will push for Europe next year. Craig Gardner and Sebastion Larsson have been signed from Birmingham and should add quality in the midfield the club lacked last season. Goalkeeper Kieran Westwood should push incumbent Craig Gordan for the number one shirt, while Korean Ji Dong-Won arrives from Korean side Chunnamn Dragons. Dong-Won impressed the Premier League side last winter during the Asian Cup when he recorded four goals and two assists in six matches. The wild card of Sunderland's signings has definately got to be Conor Wickham. At only 18 he has played the past two seasons at Ipswich Town in the Championship where he has found the back of the net 13 times in 63 outings. At only 18-years old he is a player that will be worked in slowly to this Black Cat team and most likely play as the fourth striker behind Gyan, Fraizer Campbell and Dong-Won.
Don't be surprised to see one or two more quality players arrive before the end of August. This team should find themselves well away from the trap door to the Championship next season and solidify themselves with another year of Premier League football.