With Sunderland completing the signings of Stephane Sessegnon and Sulley Muntari, it appears our business is done for another transfer window. Roker Report rounds up all the action affecting SAFC in the window, and look at how we stand going forward...
George McCartney - Extended Loan at Leeds United until the end of the season.
George was a great player in his first spell with the club, but has been an epic disaster when he returned in the Roy Keane era. A man not given a squad number at the start of the season will not be missed, as combinations of Bardsley & Richardson at left-back have lead a lot of SAFC fans to forget McCartney was ever on the books. Out of contract at the end of the season, and with severe doubts about his fitness, don't expect to see the Northern Irish international return.
Matt Kilgallon - Loaned to Doncaster Rovers until end of the season.
Matt was one of Steve Bruce's most bizarre signings. Having rarely featured for the club, when he did, he never really let us down, although never really stood out either. Having spent time at 'Boro earlier in the season, and now Doncaster Rovers, it's clear Steve is putting the lad in the shop window. Hopefully, we'll get a taker. As I said, he never did much wrong, but is well down the pecking order, and at his age will want first team football. I'd expect SAFC to accept any offers on Kilgallon.
Liam Noble - Loaned to Carlisle until the end of the season.
Liam's a young central midfielder. Having done well for the academy side, he was deemed good enough to sit on the bench away at Chelsea last season, and be given the No.15 shirt. However that flirtation as an unused sub was to be his only involvement in the SAFC first team. A spell with Carlisle in the lower leagues will show us what the lad is made of, and perhaps toughen him up a bit. He could have a future at SAFC, and this will be his big chance.
Darren Bent - £24m transfer to Aston Villa.
What more is there to be said about this? Clearly he leaves us with another hole in the striking department, but lets be honest here. The money is far too good to turn down, and a shift to 4-5-1 suits our personnel much better. He wasn't working with Gyan, so something had to give. That 'something' being a sackful of money given to Darren by Villa to convince himself he's not in a relegation battle, and is at another 'massive club'.
David Healy - Free Transfer to Glasgow Rangers.
David was recalled from Doncaster where he notched 2 goals in 8 appearances. I didn't expect Healy to have any impact whatsoever on the SAFC first team, as he was recalled simply to cover should the worst happen and Gyan picked up a knock. Healy has been a massive disappointment on Wearside, and only a week or so after returning from Doncaster Rovers, he was quickly packaged off to Glasgow Rangers. Glad to see the back of him, I thought he'd never leave.
Paulo Da Silva - Transferred to Real Zaragoza for an undisclosed fee.
When Paulo arrived at the Stadium of Light we had high hopes for the Paraguayan defender, however it simply hasn't worked out for him. Paulo was pushed way down the pecking order, without doing too much wrong, that said, he didn't do a great deal right either. Anyone who read our article earlier in the season about PDS, shouldn't have been too surprised that he didn't adjust. Credit goes to the 31yr old though for never kicking up a fuss about not playing, unfortunately he just isn't up to the Premier League. Any fee recieved for him will be a bonus, and we wish him well.
Andy Reid - Transfered to Blackpool for an undisclosed fee.
The portly midfield maestro returned from loan at Sheffield United where he had an eventful time. 9 appearances, 2 goals and 1 sending off. That sending off leading to the Blades retuning him to us. He appeared in the FA Cup loss to Notts County and didn't pull up any trees, and has spent the rest of the time on the bench. Having made very little impact over the course of the 2010/11 season, it's no surprise he's been packaged off to Blackpool. I just can't work out for the life of me what would attract Andy Reid to Blackpool, a town famous for candy and fish & chips... Oh well, all the best to him! Joking aside he did have some impact in his time with SAFC, but he's not a 'next level' player.
Stephane Sessegnon - £5.7m transfer from Paris St. Germain.
After a much drawn out transfer, the Benin Bomber is finally an SAFC player. Bruce speaks highly of him. PSG can't seem to make their minds up. They want him, they don't want him. The opinion of Antoine Koumbare seemed to change with the direction of the wind with every passing day. Cue Sessegnon throwing a strop and going on strike. A strike? In France? Who'd have thought that eh? However, all that is over and Stephane Sessegnon is now at SAFC. An immensely talented player, who is fast and has box full of tricks, he should slot in brilliantly in a free-role behind Asamoah Gyan as SAFC continue with the 4-5-1 which was so successful at Blackpool. We should watch out for those strops though, as pointed out in an article we did earlier in January
Sulley Muntari - Loaned from Inter Milan until end of the season.
Another drawn out transfer, but we eventually got our man. We know a bit about Sulley from his previous spell in the Premier League with Portsmouth, where he was an instrumental signing. If we continue with the 4-5-1, expect Muntari to slot in alongside Lee Cattermole as one of the more 'holding' in a midfield 5. This will also allow Jordan Henderson to move back to the right hand side, where he is much more effective. Muntari has a great shot on him, and a high work rate. I'm very excited by this signing. The rumored option to buy for £6m could prove a snip. Little known fact about our newest Ghanaian; Sir Alex Ferguson turned down the chance to sign him for £100k as a teenager.
Jack Colback - From loan at Ipswich Town.
It looked like Jack could have moved to Ipswich on a permanent deal earlier in January, but we've needed him, and he's done alright. Slightly disappointing against Notts County, but improved in a cameo against Newcastle, and even better at left-back when replacing Bardsley at Blackpool. He'll be a useful squad player for the remainder of the season, and don't be surprised if he pushes Cristian Riveros off the bench in coming weeks.
So, in conclusion, I think we've improved in January, and we'll be even better off when Cattermole, Welbeck, Campbell and Turner return from injury. Do we need to replace Darren Bent? I honestly don't think we do. I'm much more excited by the the new signings and the overall balance of the squad now, than I was at the thought of continuing with a clearly unhappy and misfiring Bent.
Steve Bruce should also be applauded not just for the signings of Sessegnon & Muntari, but shifting a lot of the deadwood on, which with the 25 man squad limits, is just as important as bringing in quality players.
We've got a lot of options now in the team, and people like Elmohamady, Malbranque and Richardson who have impressed of late, could suddenly be out the starting XI.
With hopefully only players returning from injury, and not more getting themselves injured, Europe is very realistic. In fact, I'm starting to feel I'll be disappointed to drop out the top 6.
The future's bright, it's Red & White.