Former Sunderland manager Peter Reid has urged the club to get behind manager Alex Neil as they prepare for life back in the Championship.
Sunderland ended their arduous four-year stay in the third tier of English football with a 2-0 win in the League One play-off final at Wembley against Wycombe.
Goals from Elliot Embleton and Ross Stewart powered the Black Cats to victory, with manager Alex Neil the cult hero at the helm.
The Scottish boss was only appointed by the club back in February after Lee Johnson was sacked following a 6-0 thrashing from Bolton Wanderers, but the 40-year-old has taken the Mackems one step closer to the promised land.
Reid won two promotions with Sunderland in 1996 and 1999 and also led the Stadium of Light outfit to back-to-back seventh-placed finishes in the Premier League in 2000 and 2001.
He knows the task that awaits Neil from here on in, and he has called for the board to support the man in the dugout.
He told the Sunderland Echo: “The club have to back him now in the Championship, and the ultimate for Sunderland – I’m telling all Sunderland fans how to suck eggs here – they need to get in the Premier League.
“It’s a tough league, the Championship, but if you back him, you’ve got a chance.
“When you go up in leagues, it’s a massive step up, but you’ve got to back him and have confidence in him.”
Will Sunderland survive next season?
TIF Thoughts on Sunderland…
While it remains to be seen who the Wearsiders decide to target to aid their Championship survival bid and maybe even further, the one thing they will need to make sure of is that they keep the spine of their team intact.
While fan favourite Aiden McGeady was released with his contract expiring this month, the club will surely be looking to keep hold of first-team stars Patrick Roberts, Lynden Gooch and Bailey Wright with their deals all expiring at the end of June.
Elsewhere, they will have to fend off reported interest from Rangers in leading goalscorer Ross Stewart, who netted 26 times this season, so it will be interesting to see how the side shape up for the first game in August compared to the one that gained promotion at Wembley.