GUS Poyet will today sit down with the club’s out of contract players for a string of discussions which will decide who stays and who goes.
There are eight players out of contract - Phil Bardsley, Jack Colback, Keiren Westwood, Carlos Cuellar, Marcos Alonso, Oscar Ustari, Santiago Vergini and Craig Gardner - and Poyet has promised he will deal with them as quickly as possible so they can play for their future.
Having saved Sunderland’s Premier League skin last night with victory over West Bromwich Albion, the Black Cats boss admitted he was keen now to move on with everything that has been put to one side while the relegation battle was won.
“I will sit down and talk to the players without contracts now,” he confirmed.
“I will talk to them about the good and the bad news - that’s something I need to do first.
“Beyond that, we will be able to plan the pre-season games and confirm what we are going to do, where we are going.
“I will also be able to look at players too because I haven’t looked at players for a long time - we could only focus on what we’ve had ahead of us these last few weeks.
“Everything has been in the air and now we can plan.
“But the mood around the training ground will be fantastic now. “these will be the three best days of my season - Thursday, Friday and Saturday - and Sunday I just want a sunny day and the chance to enjoy a game in the way you should enjoy it.”
“After that, I’m going to have an incredible week with my wife away on holiday.”
Before that he wanted to pay tribute to his players.
“They deserve credit for it and I was lucky to get a group of players in the last few weeks who understood what we were all about and things clicked.
“I played the same team five times in a row and I was lucky to do that.
“Those 11 players - with the support of the rest on the bench including not just the substitutes but the likes of Ustari, Ba and Scocco who didn’t get on in games but played their part - they have been great.
“Now we feel we can play anyone really.”
Next season, Poyet is hoping for better for Sunderland.
“I wouldn’t want another seven months like this,” he said. ”I am a strong men but I don’t want to die.
“When you play with fire, you burn - so we don’t want that.
“I want a season where we can relax.”
It’s a worthy aspiration - but someone should tell him, this IS Sunderland we’re talking about!
Colback needed just 13 minutes to set the ball rolling for Sunderland’s win over West Brom, turning up on cue to stab Marcos Alonso’s low cross past Ben Foster after Sebastian Larsson had slipped away from Claudio Yacob in midfield and picked out the full-back wide on the left.
Confidence coursed through red and white veins as Sunderland, once again led admirably by midfield enforcer Lee Cattermole, dominated.
A surging break out of defence and slide-rule pass from the former Middlesbrough and Wigan man allowed Adam Johnson to deliver a dangerous 23rd-minute cross which Steven Reid had to hack away.
But as Reid and fellow full-back found themselves repeatedly under pressure, the Black Cats were relentless and extended their lead with 31 minutes gone.
Larsson was once again the instigator with a delicate lofted pass to pick out Borini, who volleyed first-time past the advancing Foster to make it 2-0.
The Baggies offered little as an attacking force in return, and it was not until injury time the home goalkeeper Vito Mannone was called upon to make a meaningful save when he pushed away Saido Berahino’s drive.
West Brom boss Pepe Mel attempted to shore up his team at the break, replacing Reid with Craig Dawson and Yacob with Youssouf Mulumbu, and they immediately had a more compact and coherent look to them.
They came close to dragging themselves back into the game when striker Victor Anichebe only just failed to connect with Dawson’s driven cross as he slid in.
Poyet replaced Johnson and lone striker Connor Wickham with Liam Bridcutt and Jozy Altidore with 61 minutes as he looked to consolidate, but with the visitors pressing, it was Black Cats old boy Stephane Sessegnon who dragged a shot wide two minutes later.
Altidore somehow missed the target when it seemed easier to convert Colback’s 65th-minute cross and full-back Santiago Vergini smashed a shot across the face of goal four minutes later, but the points - and safety - were already secure.
SUNDERLAND: Mannone, Vergini, Brown, O’Shea, Alonso, Cattermole (Giaccherini 88), Colback, Larsson, Johnson (Bridcutt 61), Borini, Wickham (Altidore 61). Subs not used: Bardsley, Ba, Scocco, Ustari.
WEST BROM: Foster, Reid (Dawson 46), McAuley, Lugano, Brunt, Berahino (Vydra 78), Yacob (Mulumbu 46), Morrison, Dorrans, Sessegnon, Anichebe. Subs not used: Myhill, Sinclair, Olsson, O’Neil.