Max Power is determined to end a turbulent season on a high by helping Sunderland back into the Championship at the first attempt via the League One play-off final against Charlton on Sunday.
Power’s travails have to some extent mirrored the fortunes of his club, who who were expected to claim automatic promotion but instead fell away to the lottery of the knockout format.
The 25-year-old’s first season on Wearside brought three red cards – the last of which was subsequently rescinded – and a spell out of the team which might have left him without a part to play in the season’s dramatic finale.
But Power believes the “learning curve” has served him well, and left him and his team-mates well-placed to assume the mighty task of reawakening the club having slumped into the third tier.
Power said: “Ths club means so much to everyone and it is such an emotional club. It’s been on the floor after suffering back-to-back relegations.
“It’s tough and all the lads who’ve come through the door this season have been given the pieces to pick back up, so it hasn’t been easy.
“It’s been a huge learning curve for myself. I knew Sunderland was a big club when I came here, but I didn’t realise quite how big.
“It’s not an easy club to play for in terms of everything that comes with that. Personally, I’ve had a bit of turbulent season at times. But I feel I’ve come through that, and I’ve learned from them.”
Sunderland are set to have Aiden McGeady available again after he missed the play-off semi-finals against Portsmouth due to a foot injury and Power believes that tight win restored confidence after a poor end to the league campaign.
“If you watched most of the play-off games they were full of goals and cards and big incidents, but we felt we wanted to get back to basics and build a good foundation,” said Power.
“We came through the tie with two clean sheets and going into the weekend we feel like we’re back in a good place.
“We didn’t finish the season as strongly as we would have liked, but I think once we knew automatic (promotion) was out of our hands, attention started turning to what we knew was going to be a huge few weeks.”