So we've signed Craig Gardner & Seb Larsson from Birmingham City. Good for us eh? We've got a goalscoring midfielder and a set-piece expert... or have we?
We've told ourselves that that's what Gardner & Larsson are with such regularity that we're convinced of it, but how many of us have been watching Birmingham City on a regular basis? I'll hold my hands up and say barring the two games against ourselves, I haven't really paid much attention.
So we got back in touch with one of my favourite non-SAFC blogs, the ever excellent Joys & Sorrows to give us some opinions on Craig & Sebastian.
Are they who we think they are? Well we let Kevin Ball (not that one) explain...
So we’ve got in Seb Larsson and Craig Gardner now. Both well liked at St Andrews?
Kevin: Yeah I’d say so. Although Seb’s performances have been up and down over the years. Call me a cynic, he plays really well when a wage deal is at hand. He can be a moody so and so though, and sometimes disappears in games if he has got a grump over something. Most Blues fans knew he wasn’t staying, so we’re quite happy to wave goodbye and say thank you for the service and wish him well.
Gardner is a different story. After saying that Villa was his childhood club while he played for them, he corrected that when he joined us and showed us pictures of him being a mascot at Blues as proof that he had always actually been a Bluenose. Unfortunately he is now leaving, beside the fact that some of his performances meant we didn’t get points – a stupid sending off against Wolves for example when we were in charge of the game – he has suddenly distanced himself from his commitment! I’ll now expect to see a picture of him as a kid wearing a Sunderland kit and find out that after watching a video of the old 2nd Division side in the FA cup final, that actually Sunderland were his childhood club!
No, you’re right – we’re not impressed! If he had said, I’m off because I want to earn more money, I could have handled that, but he has muttered stuff about his family and all sorts.
If he had stayed he could have become a club hero, probably future club captain.
I’ll start with Larsson since he came first. Everyone up here is quite hyped about his set-piece delivery, but how good is it?
Kevin: It’s pretty good. As far as free kicks, the trouble with them is that he just shoots. When he didn’t play, I found we had more variety at them. He takes a decent corner, and that is one area we will have to get a replacement. He has got a very good shot.
As I said, everyone’s looking forward to that, but what else are Seb’s strong points?
Kevin: Very determined, he’s not quick, but is strong on the ball. His crossing isn’t always consistent but when he gets it right is very good. I mentioned his shots. He has scored a few belters for us over the years.
On a similar theme, what areas of his game are lacking and could do with improvement?
Kevin: Crossing will go in both questions, not fast. You’re not buying a winger. He is a right sided midfielder who happens to play wide. I prefer him playing the right side of midfield, but Bruce always played him wide.
Whilst I think Larsson will be good, the signing of Gardner has me very excited as are many other fans... rightly so to you?
Kevin: Right, I have explained that I am really annoyed about him going as I think he would have been terrific in the Championship. Actually last season, his only really good games were in the cup run. He is hot-headed and gets into trouble very easily. He does win the ball well, and makes things happen out of midfield. He also has a really good shot on him.
We’ll be hoping Gardner becomes the goalscoring midfielder we’ve been lacking for years, and he banged a few in last season (including against us) but what else is in his locker?
Kevin: As already said, ball winner and his passing is pretty good.
Gardner tipped for full England honours, how long do you think before that happens? (taking into account the international hindrance that is playing for us!)
Kevin: Not sure I’ve seen enough evidence for that. He is young and can obviously improve. He is a decent midfielder, but an international midfielder? Not in my book.
Do you think a move to a club of our stature is the right step in his development, or is he better suited elsewhere?
Kevin: What a rotten question. However I answer this could be an insult to Sunderland! I would say that if we were still up it would be a sort of sideways move, (please don’t throw things at me). However I think it is the right sort of move. He would never get into any of the top 6 sides.
Since we’ve got you here... McLeish to that ‘massive club’ (tongue-firmly-in-cheek) across the way from you,with Chris Hughton now at your helm. How's the mood?
Kevin: The mood is brilliant. Most fans were unhappy with the style of football under McLeish, although on my site most were prepared to give him another season. So the way he has left meaning that Villa are probably going have to pay us to take him, and we now have a bright young(ish) manager who likes to play football in the right way, is utterly brilliant! Yeah we are going to lose payers, but most Blues fans don’t seem to mind too much.
Confident of bouncing straight back?
Kevin: Difficult to say. A lot will depend on how many stay and how many come in. I’d like to think we will be in the play-offs at least.
So there you have it, thats what we've got, so don't say you were not warned! And if you fancy keeping up with the latest happenings at St Andrews I do heartily suggest you check out Joys & Sorrows, as well as following them on Twitter.