One positive that Advocaat can draw on from last season is the prowess of Jermain Defoe. The former England forward was only two goals behind the top scoring pair, despite only joining the club in January. With half a season under his belt going in to the new campaign, could Defoe finally be the consistant goal threat that Sunderland have desperately lacked in recent seasons?
Sunderland Top Scorers In 2014/15 (All Comps)
Connor Wickham – 6 Goals
Jordi Gomez – 6 Goals
Steven Fletcher – 5 Goals
Adam Johnson – 5 Goals
Jermain Defoe – 4 Goals
Sebastian Larsson – 3 Goals
Jack Rodwell – 3 Goals
They may have already strengthened their striking options with the arrival of Defoe in January and the return of Fabio Borini is sure to please most supporters, but Sunderland have strengthened in other departments since the transfer window opened again.
Uruguayan defender Sebastien Coates should have no problems settling in at the Stadium of Light, having spent last season on loan at the club from Liverpool. Sunderland's options in the middle of the park have also been bolstered with Advocaat's acquisition of Adam Matthews from Scottish champions Celtic. Loan deals to bring in Yann M'Vila, Ola Toivonen and DeAndre Yedlin have added depth and quality to the squad and should any of that trio impress, then a permenant move could be in the offing.
Even though their league form was poor in 2013/14, Sunderland embarked on a good FA Cup run. Sunderland got as far as the Fifth Round, before going down 0-2 to defiant underdogs Bradford City - as the League One side's second Premier League scalp after Chelsea in the previous round.
While the Black Cats finished as League Cup runners-up in 2013/14, they were unable to repeat their Wembley heroics after losing 1-2 to Stoke in the Third Round. The odds of another inspired cup performance this season is slim, with the bookies placing Sunderland well down the list of favourites to win either Cup.
However, as Bradford proved against Sunderland, the magic of the cup is still alive and kicking and Sunderland will be hoping they can benefit from another Cup run during this campaign. There are bound to be plenty of Sunderland fans would take finishing in the bottom half for another year if it meant another day out at Wembley.