LAST season's near heroics that turned a strictly average footballing side into FA Cup and promotion play-off semi-finalists have assured Mick McCarthy's place firmly back on the managerial wanted list.

The Sunderland boss couldn't have endured a worse start to his career at the Stadium of Light. He arrived with the club in freefall from the Premiership and presided over a run of ten straight defeats.

The turnaround was dramatic, but with automatic promotion appearing a strong possibility Sunderland suddenly ran out of steam.

The increased pressure of the FA Cup run may have played its role, but McCarthy never looked for excuses.

He has already been publicly courted by the South Korean Football Federation, and will no doubt be linked to a Premiership club as soon as the top flight suffers its first managerial casualty of the new campaign.

But McCarthy has reiterated he still has a job to do on Wearside.

The bitter penalty shoot-out defeat to Crystal Palace in the play-offs is firmly confined to the history books and the former Republic of Ireland manager has immediately set about rebuilding his team.

Out went the likes of Jason McAteer, Paul Thirlwell, Joachim Bjorklund and Phil Babb, and in came the youngsters.

McCarthy knew he would have to juggle the finances and his scouting network trawled the lower leagues to find the best talent available.

Liam Lawrence arrived from Mansfield and Dean Whitehead from Oxford and they have been joined by Stephen Elliott, Steve Caldwell, Carl Robinson and Mark Lynch.

The players in question all have something to prove and the Sunderland boss is a past master at getting the best out of his squad.

McCarthy said: "I've got the players I wanted. They are talented and young. Will they get straight in the first team? Time will tell.

"Certainly with Steve Caldwell, who has Premier League experience, Liam Lawrence got 22 goals and Dean Whitehead, who has played 140 odd games for Oxford, they are very experienced and very highly thought of.

"And Stephen Elliott has scored goals at every level. He has a spark in his eye.

"He's eager to prove he should have got a chance at Manchester City. He's keen to impress he should have been played more. What I have is hungry, ambitious players with talent."

But will that hunger and talent be enough to ensure McCarthy stays put?

The manager is known to be bitterly disappointed that Nathan Blake opted for a move to Leicester rather than sign on at Sunderland.

He may have a job to do but is he being allowed to do it his way, and just how long will the manager be able to continue in his current financial straight jacket?

As a player there's only one place to play and it's the same for a manager.

McCarthy, however, wants his side to compete as well as play at Premiership level.

"We all want to be in the Premier League and I'm no different," said McCarthy.

"But I like to have a competitive team and be trying to win things rather than propping everyone else up.

"We'll do it again. I've got faith in my ability and the ability of the players and the staff that will be remaining.

"We've got to be determined and come back in the right frame of mind."

Whether McCarthy can continue to put up with the monetary restraints that come with a club £36m in debt is anyone's guess.

After the debacle of the Howard Wilkinson reign, chairman Bob Murray is aware that he fell on his feet in his appointment of the straight talking man from Barnsley.

The question is will the time come when the straight talker is handed a better offer he can't refuse?

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