The Story Of The Summer
It has been a difficult one to really sum up. Much of it was very good and positive. Players of pedigree have arrived and there have been some promising youngsters added to bubble away below the first team developing away and hopefully providing both long-term continuity and short-term cover.
However, you can't avoid the fact that for many fans, perhaps even most, this transfer window will have left a bad after-taste. Supporters have watched Simon Mignolet, Alfred N'Diaye and Stephane Sessegnon leave the club, as well as Danny Rose not return. If a straw-poll was taken at the end of last season asking for fans' favourites, it's a fair bet those four would have feature heavily.
It isn't really for me to identify, and the term 'cost-cutting' is one that is being thrown around profusely. I'm not sure that is entirely fair or accurate, in truth. When all is totalled up, I very much doubt many costs will have been cut.
What has been evident though is that far greater value has been sought for existing costs. That had to be done anyway due to the new Financial Fair Play restrictions on wage increases, but also due to the need for trying to establish some kind of long-term strategy for getting the club on a more secure and healthy financial footing. It was something that should have surprised no one given Margaret Byrne's comments in March.
It's not realistic [lowering season card prices] because we've got massive debts.
If we were a profitable organisation, I'd take on that argument all day long. But we're not.
We would love to be profitable and give more offers for supporters and bring in more players.
Because we're not producing profits, every time we buy a player, Ellis is virtually buying that player for the club himself. We're really lucky to have his backing and support.
This TV deal gives the club a chance to get our books in order.
Is it a risky strategy? Perhaps. A gutsy one? Definitely. But it is probably a necessary one both from a financial standpoint and a football one. Only time will tell, but we shouldn't ever lose sight of the fact that football matches will always be decided on the pitch and not paper. Over to you, Paolo.
The Key Additions
The addition of Jozy Altidore I think is a massive one. For all Sessegnon's flair and finesse, I'd back Altidore to have produced more than him come May. It is also easy to forget that Fabio Borini was a £10m+ player with a brilliant budding reputation in Italy just a year ago. When those two are added to the returning Steven Fletcher, the attack looks much more likely to produce goals.
I also suspect many are underestimating the quality of Ki Sung-yeung in midfield. He can pass the ball forwards and incisively, as well as carrying it himself. He isn't perfect and he won't offer too much in terms of bite, but he most certainly brings something new to the table that has been missing for years.
You can't ignore Emanuele Giaccherini here either. For Sunderland to attract a current full Italian international from the Serie A champions at his peak is no mean feat.
The Ones That Got Away
Obviously, the left back position was once again a nightmare. There was a long list of targets and they all slipped away one by one in agonizing and frustrating fashion. To spend a summer looking and ending up with a deadline day dash for a thirty-something player who flopped in England at his peak and failed a medical last week is not really ideal, but there we are.
Central midfield is another area of interest here too. We won't really know until we see more of Cabral, though.
The Jokers In The Pack
The two young wingers, David Moberg-Karlsson and Charis Mavrias, look like they are bursting with pace and potential. Both look like quality long-term additions who can be big impact players from the bench against tiring legs.
Where Does It All Leave Us
As I said before, only time will tell. For a manager that apparently wants to set-up in a 4-4-2 and send crosses into the box, the squad looks well balanced and with good options from an attacking point of view.
Defensively though you suspect much will depend on being organised as it looks a little iffy if Wes Brown can't find fitness and a goalkeeper some form.
Given the tough fixtures ahead, it may get a little hairy in the short term, but if we can hang on in there there is every opportunity for a strong finish and hopefully a little coin left over for January.