Quinn demands an end to away day blues
Steve Bruce's biggest challenge this summer will be to address Sunderland's crippling failure on the road.
That is the view of chairman Niall Quinn as he prepares to fund a round of "important" signings in a bid to establish the club in the upper reaches of the Barclays Premier League.
The Black Cats collected only 10 points away from home last season, a return which severely hampered their chances of securing a top-10 finish.
Their only wins came at Bolton and Hull - and they were more than eight months apart - and although they drew at Manchester United, Blackburn, Portsmouth and Aston Villa, 13 defeats proved costly.
Quinn said: "We must arrest the away form which has handcuffed us all year in terms of trying to go forward as a football club.
"Lots of people look at signings, and yes there will be some important signings.
"But Steve's biggest issue over the summer is coming up with a new mental approach. He must figure out why we can beat the big boys, but when we go to the Burnleys of this world, we can't kick snow off a rope.
"Yes, we will buy people in and add to what we have already, but wholesale changes aren't needed. What we need is a tougher mental attitude.
"I can promise everyone that's paramount in our minds. We will do everything we can to alter the view that we are a home team."
Sunderland ultimately finished in 13th place in the table, their best since returning to the top flight three seasons ago, but marginally short of their ambitions after another summer of heavy investment.
This time around, Bruce will take a more measured approach as he looks for quality in key areas with full-backs a major priority.
Alan Hutton, who impressed during his loan spell from Tottenham, is a target, as once again is Wigan's Maynor Figueroa, although the Black Cats are determined to get value for money and will consider alternatives with Hamburg's Guy Demel still in their sights.
Paraguay international midfielder Cristian Riveros has already completed his move to the Stadium of Light, and the club announced today that 33-year-old Dutchman Boudewijn Zenden has signed a new 12-month contract amid encouraging season ticket sales.
Quinn said: "It's been a colossal response and I can't thank everyone enough.
"The club is going the extra mile in attempting to get things right. One of the things people are looking at is if we can make the step up into the top half of the table.
"Believe me, we are not sleeping this summer. We are going to be working very hard."
Meanwhile, Quinn has spoken of his delight at Zenden's decision to agree a new deal.
He told the club's official website, www.safc.com: "It warms my heart to see someone who's done everything he has give such commitment to the club.
"He could easily be viewed as just another guy who's coming to the end of his career, but his input on and off the pitch is terrific.
"The dressing room is more professional. Bolo has the respect of everyone and he is someone the other players look up to.
"He enthuses about the game every day and it's a joy to behold. That rubs off on everyone.
"He's a class act and the young players will gain so much experience from being around him."