Sunderland AFC's Jan Kirchhoff, is expecting a big improvement from the Black Cats, ahead of the new season.
Beating the drop
Kirchoff, along with fellow January signings Whabi Khazri and Lamine Kone, were crucial in the clubs eventual survival in the English top-flight.
The German has already become a firm favourite amongst the Wearside faithful, and Kirchoff is expecting an improvement in the side, ahead of the 2016-17 season.
Kirchoff told safc.com "it's time to get prepared and grow together, find our rhythm again." The defensive midfielder belives that his teammates showed in the last 17 games and particularly the last 10 that "we're good enough to play in this league" and "good enough to make a better result" for the "whole year rather than just the final few months to stave off relegation once more.
Getting up to pace
It could prove to be a crucial pre-season for Kirchoff, who joined mid-season from Bayern Munich. The Black Cats have a number of friendlies scheduled, ahead of their opening fixture with Manchester City, and Kirchoff believes the remaining pre-season weeks will be crucial.
He said: "I always try to fit in early and fast" but the relationship with the fans will be dependant on "good performances."
The 25-year-old claimed he was "lucky" to have performed well in the final few months, admitting that "all my goals came true in the first three months" and that "everything went as I expected and hoped for."
Kirchoff concluded that "the goal for the next six weeks is to be prepared 100% for the first day onwards" as it is a really important time for the season and that it will be "how we create our basis for the whole year."
Reuniting with a old coach
The first game of the season will see Kirchhoff reunite with old coach, Pep Guardiola, who took charge of the German when he made the initial move to Bavaria, and Kirchhoff was full of praise for his old coach.
Kirchhoff said "a lot of eyes will be on this game" as it will be Pep's first game in Manchester and will be "a tough challenge" where Sunderland will need to put in "our best performance."
He concluded that Guardiola is a "great coach" and that the Spaniard will bring "every club and every player he's working with forward" with Kirchhoff admitting that he is confident "that's what he'll do in Manchester."
Sunderland AFC will take on Hartlepool United at Victoria Park on Wednesday, July 20 with kick-off at 7:30pm BST.