After Newcastle United's relegation, I didn't expect to see a Geordie in The Stadium of Light quite so soon.
The appointment of Steve Bruce raised a few eyebrows across Wearside. A self-confessed Geordie who changes clubs more often than Tiger Woods would make any Sunderland fan slightly apprehensive.
With world-renowned names like Roberto Mancini, Marco Van Basten and Sven Goran-Eriksson linked to the position, it's understandable that Bruce's appointment left many fans feeling underwhelmed.
However, Bruce's appointment could be a shrewd move from Niall Quinn. A born winner from his days at Manchester United and blessed with excellent contacts within game, Bruce could be the man to take Sunderland to the next level, just like he has done with Wigan Athletic.
The biggest obstacle for Bruce to overcome is his Geordie roots. Born in Corbridge, Northumberland and a regular at St. James' Park during his childhood will always be a contentious issue for some Sunderland fans. But, if Bruce wins games and helps Sunderland climb the table the fans will soon forget about that.
Sunderland's had a Geordie in charge before and he now has a statue outside of The Stadium of Light in celebration of the club's greatest ever achievement. Bob Stokoe managed an unfancied Sunderland side against the then-mighty Leeds United in the 1973 FA Cup final and instantly became a Mackem hero. Let's hope Bruce can follow in his footsteps.
However, the last Geordie to change allegiance highlights the fine line between hero and villain. Michael Chopra's move from Cardiff City in the summer of 2007 divided opinion across Wearside.
After initially being welcomed by Sunderland fans (scoring an injury-time winner against Spurs on the opening day of the Premier League season certainly helped), Chopra's popularity nose-dived. Introduced as a substitute in the Tyne-Wear derby, Chopra was one-on-one with Newcastle goalkeeper, Steve Harper. Despite it being easier to score, Chopra decided to pass the ball out of play and with it, his Sunderland career. Despite proclaiming that he would never miss a chance against Newcastle on purpose, Chopra was sent on loan to Cardiff City the next day.
Bruce's background won't be scrutinized as much as Chopra's next season as he won't have to face Newcastle United but I suspect that such an occurence would not happen under Bruce's tenure.
In terms of Bruce's transfer targets, it's inevitable that he'll be linked with players from Wigan. Antonio Valencia is out of Sunderland's league despite speculation that we'd be interested. Lee Cattermole is young, tough-tackling central midfielder who would add much-needed bite to a lightweight midfield. With Dean Whitehead expected to leave and Teemu Tainio injury-prone, Cattermole could be the holding midfielder the club needs.
The rumour of a bid for Titus Bramble would not be welcomed in Sunderland, I suspect. Despite a solid season under Bruce at Wigan, where he was named as their player of the season, Bramble will always be remembered as one half of the comedy duo, Bramble and Boumsong.
No matter how much Bruce has transformed an error-prone, former Newcastle United defender into a stable, Premier League defender, it'd be hard for Sunderland fans to accept.
A more realistic and acceptable target is Richard Dunne, the Manchester City centre-half. With an endless amount of money available to him, Mark Hughes will be targeting world-class players meaning the likes of Dunne could be surplus to requirements.
With Djibril Cisse returning to Marseilles, Sunderland need another striker. Once again, we've been linked to Darren Bent. I think it'd be a great signing for all parties. However, I suspect Harry Redknapp will reignite his pursuit of Kenwyne Jones.
In terms of players leaving, it looks like Roy Keane wants to take a few players to Ipswich Town. Daryl Murphy, Paul McShane and Carlos Edwards have been linked with the Tractor Boys and I think it'd be a good move for them. I think we'll see a lot more than them three leaving this summer.
The sale of the club by The Drumaville Consortium to Irish-American businessman, Ellis Short, also offers excitement. Bruce has stated that he's excited by the players he's now able to look at, claiming that it's more like shopping at Harrod's than Tesco. Short's money should allow Bruce to invest in some quality signings this summer. Hopefully, this will be the start of a bright future and the makings of a new Bob Stokoe.