Robbie Stockdale believes Sunderland will bounce back strongly from successive relegations provided the club invests wisely in the right players and characters.
Sunderland finished the Championship campaign with a stunning 3-0 win over champions Wolves at the Stadium of Light, with owner-in-waiting Stewart Donald watching on.
Donald watched the game in an executive box alongside members of his family with his takeover from Ellis Short still awaiting EFL approval.
There is no exact timescale for when that will happen leaving the Black Cats in a state of limbo in the meantime.
Stockdale admitted he hadn’t spoken with Donald and had no indication as to when the takeover would be completed and a new manager appointed.
But the prospective owner would have been impressed with Sunderland’s display against Wolves, who finished the season on 99 points.
When asked why this Sunderland team had gone down having proven they can compete with the best in the division, Stockdale said: “Over the season, we haven’t been good enough. I would be going over old ground, why that has been the case.
“The emergence of the younger players is a positive, even though it has been a tough season, the younger players will be better for it.
“It is not always nice football, there are probably more dark times than good but it will make them stronger.
“With the right investment and the right players - the right characters as well as footballers – this club will bounce back, I have no doubt about that.”
Sunderland took the lead in the 19th minute, Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria tapping home after Luke Molyneux’s effort was saved.
Boro loanee Ashley Fletcher doubled the lead with a superb lob over on-rushing Wolves keeper Will Norris after holding off Danny Batth.
Paddy McNair made it three after 66 minutes, drilling past Norris.
Stockdale, assisted by coaches Cliff Byrne and Elliott Dickman, was pleased to see the Sunderland squad finish on a high, this only their third home win of the season.
“I asked the players to finish on a positive note,” added Stockdale. “It was a good performance, we scored some good goals and it was important that we finished it right.
“It is what we’ve been trying to do for a couple of months now, it was just a shame the game didn’t have anything on it in terms of staying up.
“It has been a tough week, a difficult one.
“The players have been distracted with other things, like we all have. The message I had for them just before we went out was ‘if somebody was coming to watch you for the first time, what impression do you want to leave them with?’
“That went from the older players to the younger ones. If anybody did do that, they would come away with some positive things to say about our team.”
The Sunderland squad went their separate ways for the summer break after the Wolves game.
The players were originally due in Monday for final meetings but Stockdale changed the plans following Chris Coleman’s sacking.
Stockdale added: “The original plan under Chris and Kit was they would be in Monday, chats over contracts, post-season plans etc.
“I have decided not to do that as it is not my decision what happens next with the players out of contract.”