Sam Allardyce says any Sunderland success next season will depend on how well he performs in the transfer market this summer.
Allardyce is hoping to step up his recruitment drive in the next few weeks as looks to have the core of his squad in place before they return for pre-season training on July 1.
Transfer activity will be hampered by the European Championships taking place throughout June and the beginning of July, but the Black Cats boss is determined to make sure his side is well prepared for the new campaign.
And he says their transfer business, along with a strong pre-season, will help Sunderland get off to a better start than they have in previous years.
Allardyce said: “The club has got to try and get itself into a better position.
“This is the fourth season we have struggled against relegation.
“For the fans, especially, it’s about trying to stop the heartache that they have suffered for the last four seasons on the trot, and try to give them that little bit more.
“That will all depend on how good a pre-season we have and how well we recruit because we’ve got to try and get off to a much better start than the club has achieved in the last four seasons when they’ve not won any of the first four or five games and it’s always been a struggle from there on.”
Allardyce’s transfer business in January was a key factor in Sunderland avoiding the drop, with new signings Lamine Kone, Jan Kirchhoff and Wahbi Khazri playing a pivotal role in keeping the side up.
The Sunderland boss has already held talks with owner Ellis Short over his budget, and has drawn up a list of targets.
Allardyce won’t be heading to France to scout potential signings, but will watch the Euro 16 finals closely while finalising his pre-season arrangements.
Sunderland have yet to confirm where they will travel to this summer, but won’t be embarking on a gruelling tour to the US like last year, which was partly blamed for their poor start to the season.
Allardyce added: “I’m looking forward to the Euros to see hopefully this young England team coming to fruition and be much better than what they did in the World Cup, but my focus is on Sunderland.
“We have got a lot of catching up on with pre-season as we didn’t know what we would be coming back for.”