A new dawn is upon Sunderland
Kyril Louis-Dreyfus (R) during the Papa John's Trophy semi-final between Sunderland AFC and Lincoln City at The Stadium of Light on February 17, 2021 in Sunderland, England. Sporting stadiums around England remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images)

After three seemingly endless months of speculation, Sunderland were finally taken over by Kyril Louis-Dreyfus

The 23-year-old billionaire heir reportedly bought 59% of Stewart Donald’s share to become just the fourth majority shareholder in the club’s 142-year history. 

Numerous false dawns have descended upon Wearside over the last fifteen years, no more so than the previous era, where Donald promised the world and delivered nothing but falsehoods. Yet in a short period of time, it seems Louis-Dreyfus is no chancer; he is here to succeed.

The deal was first acknowledged by Sunderland on Christmas Eve, when a statement was released. In it, Louis Dreyfus hinted at some of the changes he has brought in his opening week.

He said:

We have a long-term strategy which integrates Sunderland’s proud traditions with a modern structure and approach.

We will seek to be at the frontier of research and innovation in all performance domains and place great emphasis on player development and the team’s style of play.

Modernisation

They say that a week is a short time in football but in the last seven days, the steps Louis-Dreyfus has taken have dragged Sunderland into the 21st Century. 

They have advertised for data scientists to join in a bid to become one of the leading  EFL clubs in player recruitment. 

Meanwhile, the academy operations are set to improve too. A restructure has been announced which includes bringing former Brentford coach, Stuart English, to join as Head of Academy Coaching. His links to the West-London club only amplify the desire to become a modern-day, forward-thinking club. 

It is no secret in Sunderland that Sporting Director, Kristjaan Speakman, was brought to the club by the incoming Chairman. The pair have been spotted together watching the first-team together numerous times across the past two weeks and the former Birmingham academy manager is tasked with making Sunderland a leading force in youth development. 

The Academy of Light is a Category One complex, the top of the FA's rankings. In recent years players such as Jordan Henderson, Jordan Pickford and John Egan have come through the system. However, fire sales and a drop in performance has seen the mood around the academy darken throughout the Donald era. 

Excitement is brewing on Wearside amid these changes. Sunderland fans have suffered for long enough with a double relegation following what felt like an eternity battling against what was to come. 

Success on the pitch 

Sunderland's fortunes on the pitch this season have been inconsistent at best. Despite the club's lofty promotion ambitions, the Black Cats are yet to occupy the top two this season and have been lingering between fringes of the play-offs and mid-table for large swathes. 

However, since the takeover deal was completed, those fortunes have been boosted. 

On the 13th February, a Charlie Wyke and Aiden McGeady inspired performance helped demolish promotion rivals Doncaster 4-1 at the Stadium of Light. The former scored four headers, all of which were supplied by the latter. 

Later in the week, Sunderland faced league leaders, Lincoln City, in the semi-final of the Papa John's Trophy. A tense and close tie resulted in a penalty shootout, in which academy graduate and club captain, Grant Leadbitter, scored the winner to send Sunderland to Wembley for the third time in as many seasons. 

To round off a seismic week, Lee Johnson's men dismantled bottom placed Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday. Goals from Leadbitter, Gooch and Wyke ensured a comfortable win as they returned to the play-off places. 

It seems the takeover has had a profound effect on the pitch. 

And reports suggest that Louis-Dreyfus is quite literally going to have an effect on the pitch. 

The Daily Mail reports that Sunderland are set to invest £500,000 in a new turf at the Stadium of Light. They also plan to install state-of-the-art lighting around the pitch, which hasn't seen much improvement since the ground opened in 1997. 

It is yet another area in which the new Chairman is looking to modernise. 

In just seven days, Sunderland have become much more professional, more structured and are on their way to becoming one of the most innovative clubs in the country. 

It is early days indeed, however, with the team's form improving and a Wembley cup final to look forward to, a new, successful era of Sunderland FC may be upon us. The first sign of progress would be to earn promotion at Lee Johnson's first time of asking. 

 

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