David Moyes has vowed to remain and Sunderland and lead their bid for a Premier League return following relegation to the Championship.
After flirting with the drop for several seasons the Black Cats have finally lost their top-flight status on Moyes’ watch, with demotion confirmed four games ahead of time and fans turning on the Scot in their droves.
Moyes met American owner Ellis Short and chief executive Martin Bain this week and insisted he was given no reason to fear the axe. Instead, he appeared to suggest further discussions at the end of the campaign would be about assessing the blueprint and budget for next year’s assault on the Championship, and whether they matched his expectations.
“Ellis and the board want me to stay,” he said after being asked if there had been a decision on his future.
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘decision’. I’ve got a four-year contract so I don’t know what you’re talking about ‘a decision’.
“We were deflated, I wouldn’t say it was an uplifting kind of meeting. We weren’t there for that, we were there to talk business. “None of us were happy because we’re disappointed we got relegated.
“We’ll have another meeting at the end of the season. We’ve only put initial plans down at this present time. I know what needs to be done to get back in the Premier League, I know the requirements, but we’ve only had initial talks.
“I’ll know more come the end of the season, once we see exactly what we’re able to deal with, what we can work with, then we’ll know exactly what we can do.”
Moyes’ summary of the summit may not go down well with those sections of the support who are eager to see the back of the former Manchester United and Everton boss. That group seems to be growing in number and visibility, meaning a potentially tricky balancing act awaits if he does remain in post, but the 54-year-old was hardly in bridge-building mood on the eve of Saturday’s clash with Hull.
Reminded of his pre-season prediction of a survival battle, unexpected comments which critics suggested could scare of possible transfer targets and lower expectations of those already at the club, Moyes was bullish.
“When I look back on it I was very honest, forthright, told people what I thought,” he said.
“I came to a part of the country where, I was led to believe, that was the way people wanted speaking to. I told them exactly.
“We’d been in a relegation battle the four previous seasons. You want managers to tell the truth and I do.”
Speculation has also been rife about key members of the playing squad.
The usual disappearance of players at the end of current deals can be expected and there will be no shortage of suitors for top-scorer Jermain Defoe or goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Both harbour hopes of going to next summer’s World Cup and will be eager to stay in the top flight, though Moyes expects more of a fight over Pickford.
“We can only lose the ones who are out of contract. Jordan Pickford is in contract so there’s nothing to say we’ll lose Jordan,” he said.
“Jermain Defoe has a clause in his contract so that’s possible.”