Sam Allardyce admitted to being hungover after celebrating Sunderland’s Premier League survival – but he is already planning for next season.
Having guaranteed another year in the top flight with a 3-0 victory over Everton on Wednesday night, Allardyce appeared before the media after only a few hours of rest in a hotel close to the Stadium of Light.
Any late night indulgence has been hard-earned, Allardyce having turned around a listing ship since the turn of the year and secured survival by taking 11 points from their past five games.
But if the Black Cats are to banish the familiar cycle of mid-season despair followed by unlikely escape, something needs to change next term.
And Allardyce, who spoke optimistically about his own long-term future with the club after Wednesday’s victory, is already preparing to plan the way ahead with owner Ellis Short.
“I’m only just overcoming a hangover. I spent a really good few hours with Ellis last night, and the staff at the club, which was fantastic,” he said.
“But I think my (next) meeting with Ellis will be our time to reflect on next season and set out where we want to go and how we’re going to do it.
“At the end of that conversation we will then determine a way forward for Sunderland Football Club and hopefully it will be a more successful way forward than it has been for the last few years.”
After the final whistle against the Toffees, Allardyce toasted his triumph with a lap of honour, at one stage seemingly threatening a striptease.
Explaining that moment of exuberance, he added: “I just caught the eye of a guy in the stand. He started doing some daft things but I stopped myself going as far as he did…he ended up with his shirt off and everything. I didn’t do any dancing last night.”
Allardyce to quickly decide futures
Allardyce will waste no time in shaping his playing staff for next year.
A handful of squad members are out of contract, others have slipped to the margins since Allardyce’s arrival in October, while loanees Yann M’Vila and DeAndre Yedlin are coming to the end of their agreed stays.
But everyone at the club can expect some clarity before Sunday’s final game.
“I’ll be having all of those conversations before we face Watford,” said Allardyce.
“I don’t see any point leaving players hanging on their futures so we’ll be talking in the next couple of days about whether we are or aren’t going to take them forward.
“That’s one job to get through pretty quickly – what are we going to do with the players we’ve already got, whether that be on-loan players, those under contract or those who are not happy because they’ve not had enough game time.
“I’ll have those conversations with individuals and see where we go from there.”
Allardyce remained tactful on the subject of Newcastle’s relegation, which was confirmed by Sunderland’s own survival.
Not only are they the Black Cats’ biggest rivals, but the team who dealt arguably the biggest blow of Allardyce’s career when sacking him after just eight months in 2008.
“The past is the past, that can’t change,” he said when asked if the Magpies’ contrasting fortunes added an extra element of satisfaction.
“It’s all written in the history books you can look back on. I rarely look back, I only really think of the future and can I make the future better than what it has been.”