LIAM Bridcutt is looking forward to pre-season and the chance to be part of a new Sunderland side from the start, rather than arriving on the back foot halfway through the campaign.
The defensive midfielder was brought to the Stadium of Light from Brighton in January, widely trailed as one of Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet’s favourite players.
But many Sunderland fans never really saw quite what the Uruguayan saw in the former Chelsea trainee.
Bridcutt understands that and predicts that the widely-changed new Sunderland side which starts next season will bring the best out of him.
“With a lot of players out of contract this summer, you obviously expect there’s going to be a lot of people coming in and out of the club over the summer,” he said. “And I’m looking forward to it.
“I’m looking forward to next season so I can get a fresh start and go again.
“Last season, my season was stop and go, I was injured, I was left out of the side before the transfer and then I had to step up a level and come into a struggling side.
“As well as that, a lot happened off the pitch with my family soon after I arrived. So, without a doubt, I’m looking forward to pre-season.
“In pre-season, I’ll be able to get all the preparation right, hopefully, and we’ll work on how everyone fits into the side rather than having to adjust every week because we’re struggling and working to get must-win results.
“With Gus, I think he needs to work with the team and you’re going to see the benefits of that from next season. When he gets a full pre-season, he gets his ideas across.”
Bridcutt’s arrival at the Stadium of Light came in January within a whisker of coinciding with fellow defensive midfielder Lee Cattermole’s departure.
But, after much soul-searching, Poyet decided he wanted to keep the Teessider and persuaded chairman Ellis Short not to sell the former skipper to Stoke City.
That decision was rewarded by some outstanding performances by Cattermole which went a long way to keeping Sunderland up.
Bridcutt says he is a big admirer of what Cattermole brings to the team, regardless of the fact there might be times they are competing for the same place in the side.
“Lee was absolutely fantastic towards the season and showed why he is such a top player,” added the Scotland international.
“I really rate him as a player and there are things I can learn from him, but, at the same time, I think we’ve shown there’s no reason why we can’t play in the same team together.
“And I’m really keen to show next season that I have something to contribute in the Premier League.
“Given the circumstances, I’m pleased with the way I adjusted to stepping up to the Premier League, but I’m sure I can be a lot better next season and so can Sunderland.”