Dick Advocaat has challenged Sunderland to build on their successful survival battle in the Barclays Premier League next season – whether he is in charge or not.
The Dutchman was in tears as the final whistle blew at Arsenal after the Black Cats battled to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday night, which was enough to avoid a nervous final day of the season at champions Chelsea on Sunday with Hull and Newcastle now left to scrap it out for survival.
It is a remarkable achievement under the former Rangers boss, who presided over an upturn in form with 12 points from eight matches in charge to protect his record of never having been relegated.
The 67-year-old, though, would not confirm whether he had yet decided to stay on in Wearside.
“I give an answer on that next week, sorry.
“If you don’t mind, I will keep that (reasons) for myself. I have to think about everything.
“If I stop, this will be the last job, and (if I continue) it will be this one.”
What the future held for himself, Advocaat challenged the Mackems to build on their achievements.
He added: “This is the moment for Sunderland Football Club to do something also, you cannot buy eight players for £40million, so you have to try to get more quality into the squad and make the team stronger.
“We have to be very proud of our chairman and what he is doing, but the quality was not always there, now hopefully he can start on a new set up bringing more players of quality than he did in the past.”
Advocaat was again emotional about Sunderland’s achievements as he spoke in the post-match press conference.
“We have always said it was not about me, it was everybody involved, from the president to the people in the office and the team,” the Dutchman added.
“The team believed in what we were trying to do from day one, but nobody believed we would do it here against a great team.
“I always told them to believe in their quality.
“To have done it one our own, this gives me a special feeling.”
The former Holland manager continued: “The emotions came when my friend Bert van Lingen (assistant coach), we have done 25 years everything together, when he arrived onto the pitch, and he started crying then, I did the same, but he said let it go, and I said, okay, why not.”
Despite Sunderland’s resolute defending and threat on the counter attack, Arsenal had created enough chances to put the match beyond them.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was left frustrated following another night where his men dominated possession, but could not convert their superiority, having now failed to score at the Emirates Stadium for a third successive match.
Arsenal, though, remain in third place, and with a three-point lead over Manchester United and superior goal difference are all but guaranteed automatic Champions League qualification.
“We haven’t scored in the last three games at home and the fact that we couldn’t score played a big part in our spontaneous attitude when finishing,” said Wenger.
“It’s important to win on Sunday and give a good final game to our fans, after that we need to prepare for the FA Cup final.”
Midfielder Jack Wilshere is expected to be in the England squad announced on Thursday, having made a first start since November.
Wenger, though, confirmed forward Danny Welbeck would be a doubt because of an on-going knee problem.
“Welbeck has a test on Saturday or Sunday. We’ll know more about it then,” he said.