From The Durham Times: Modest Deadline Day Hardly A Reflection Of Ambition

The signings of Sotiris Kyrgiakos & Wayne Bridge are solid additions.

As you're no doubt fully aware, we have a column in local newspaper The Durham Times to spout our brains about all things SAFC. We also take turns in writing it, and this week was the turn of Roker Report noob, Karl Jones.

Karl acquitted himself well as he reflected on the previous games against Norwich and 'Boro, looked forward to the Stoke City game and there was a particular focus on the transfer window.

So how can you read this? Well of course the number one way would be to just buy the paper. It's out every Friday, it costs less than a Mars bar, and gives you all the local news you need. Failing that head to their website (CLICK HERE) and have a read when it's unleashed on a Friday.

Failing all that, just head over to cosy little Roker Report at a weekend and well, it's below, so continue reading...

There is no denying it, it can still be heard: Cisse! Cisse! Cisse! It made even the most trusting fan look over their shoulder at what others were doing.

Since Asamoah Gyan departed on the money train in September, a striker has been on the transfer agenda. Signing Nicklas Bendtner on loan covered any damaging losses and whilst the striker has not been as prolific as was hoped for, he has played his part in Sunderland's recent transformation. Nevertheless a front man was still on the cards; even more so when the Arsenal-owned forward was injured against Swansea City.

But whilst Newcastle lauds their new number nine before he has even kicked a ball in England, it is a number that holds significance with Sunderland also. Martin O'Neill has been in charge of nine Premier League matches, presiding over six wins. Winning two-thirds of a run of top-flight games is unknown territory - in recent times - for Sunderland, but O'Neill has quickly assembled a team, and more importantly a style of play, from what he inherited from Steve Bruce.

Now I am not one to conform to the ‘there's no value in January' idea; the winter window is time to be creative, but also if you do your homework plenty of opportunities arise - particularly players in the last year of their current contract. Unfortunately this January reminded all why that is almost as much cliché as Robbie Keane being spotted in Seaham Hall at that time of year. Barring a wrong-side-of-thirty Bobby Zamora, there was not much doing in terms of finding a striker to ease the current injury predicament. There is not much you can do about that, but rather than bemoan what he does not have O'Neill is quick to turn a positive light on what lay before him - a quality that is slowly seeping into his side and making the sum greater than some of its parts.

Two borrowed defenders did join as the window slammed shut to expand the defensive options available, at a time where Wes Brown has been ruled out for eight weeks. O'Neill's method amidst the transfer window madness was clearly short-term stability in order to improve in the long run. With a flurry of games in February - should Sunderland progress in the FA Cup - the acquisitions of Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Kyrgiakos on loan strengthen the heart of the defence and take the strain off the square pegs that deputise at left back should Kieran Richardson not be available.

A striker proved elusive, but not as much as Stephane Sessegnon has to opposition defenders in recent weeks. Frazier Campbell has made a startling return after 18 months out and the progression of Ji Dong-Won and Connor Wickham continues. O'Neill has enough to make use of for the rest of the season by which time his main man will either come to the fore or be targeted next time around.

This weekend, a trip to the Britannia to face Stoke City provides the latest challenge for O'Neill, and it is also another opportunity to dispel another ‘norm' - Sunderland has won just once in its last six away to Stoke. Undoubtedly there will be a few memorable (good and bad) faces in the Stoke line-up but what is also familiar at the moment, strangely, is winning. Saturday will be the first time in a long time that coming away from Stoke with nothing would be a minor disaster, and that is purely down to the manager.

O'Neill may have resisted the urge to spend, but the club did not; paying severance packages to Bruce and his backroom staff before appointing the former Aston Villa boss. It just goes to show that there is certainly value for money out there.

KARL JONES

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