SUNDERLAND'S recruitment plan for the summer transfer window is set to become clearer in the next couple of weeks, with meetings scheduled - despite the fact the identity of the next head coach is not yet known.

Mike Dodds, who finished the season as interim head coach and is expected to stay on as part of the new manager's coaching team, will have his say in the meetings and will stress the importance of adding experience to the squad.

Dodds admits, however, that the general transfer model won't change this summer and although he says Sunderland's identity and direction looks "murky" on the back of a disappointing season, he believes the head coach appointment and signings made in the next few months will make the vision of the club clear once more.

He also says the aim of the new head coach is to get Sunderland playing the style of football that fans saw from Tony Mowbray's side.

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Dodds said: "I’m not going to speak on behalf of  other people, whether it be the ownership group or Kristjaan but, from my perspective, the direction of the club I wouldn’t say is clear because it’s a little bit murky at the moment because we’ve had three head coaches in one season, four if you include me twice, so that makes it a little bit murky.

"But in terms of the direction, we want to have a certain style of play which I think the fans are completely on board with.

“It’s the style of play which Tony had that was really free-flowing, it was really entertaining to watch.

“We’ll have a little bit more structure out of possession which I feel, in some of my games, we’ve seen that, but the hard bit is obviously trying to find the balance between the two because you want more structure and organisation but it takes away from other areas, it’s always that counterweight in finding a balance between the two.

"The recruitment, in terms of how we recruit, isn’t going to change. The club want players with upside. They want players who have a value but there’s a gap between the value and their ceiling.

“I’ve said previously I do feel we need to recruit a couple more players, not in terms of age. When we talk about experience I’m talking about a couple more players who have a couple of hundred league games under their belt at this level or in and around this level. So I do feel the group need that and we as a club probably need a little bit more depth. So in terms of the direction I understand why it would probably feel a little bit murky at the moment.

“If the club recruit two, three, four players and there’s an identity with those players I think the fans will be onboard and it will very quickly re-navigate. Obviously the appointment of the head coach is going to be a marker.

“That will speak for itself, much like the recruitment of players will speak for itself. I’m not going to speak for other people but I don’t think it needs any kind of statement, as such, but actions speak louder than words. That’s the old phrase, isn’t it? Who’s the new head coach going to be? It’s him. Who are we recruiting in the summer? And your first two or three signings give you a marker.”

While Dodds knows Sunderland's 16th-place finish is unacceptable, he insists the Black Cats aren't far away from being able to compete at the top end of the Championship again.

"I don't want to contradict myself because I've said that the table doesn't lie and that says that we are a long way off, so I'm not going to sit here and say that we are really close," he said.

"But what I will say is I do think there is the core of an incredibly good team there. They showed that last season and for some of those players that have played across both, it's a summer where they need to reflect on why the performance levels weren't as high as they were previously.


"My overriding thought is that I don't think the team is a million miles away from being a top six team, I think I've said previously that we need to have some more depth in some areas.

"I'm sure the club are looking at those areas, we've got some recruitment meetings over the next couple of weeks which will hopefully give me some insight into the type of players that we're looking at.

"We deserve what we've got this season and that's not something that we can't shirk away from, but at the same time I do think there is a core group there that I think could be a really strong team for next year."