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Vickery: Scocco Can Make Instant Impact, But Ustari A Mystery

What does a respected expert think about Sunderland's sudden influx of Argentinians?

Nigel Roddis


Ignacio Scocco is a 'very very talented player'. That is the opinion of renowned South American football expert Tim Vickery.

Vickery was quizzed on Sunderland's incoming Argentinian players on this week's BBC World Football Phone-in on Five Live, and had nothing but superlatives for the striker, who is expected to complete a move to Wearside this week. He said:

Scocco is a lovely striker. A very very talented player. You probably wouldn't play him right up top in the Premier League, you'd play him off the main striker. He strikes the ball very very well indeed, moves with great fluidity - I think he's a really interesting player.

Of the three (Scocco, Ustari and Vergini), he is the one most likely to be pitched into Sunderland's relegation struggle and instantly make an impact.

You are certainly hard-pressed to find any experts with a bad word to say about the former Newell's Old Boys forward, which is encouraging. The positional quandary offered by Vickery is an interesting one, however.

At the moment, the closest thing 'off the striker' the Sunderland system has is probably Fabio Borini's position on the left hand side of a front three. You wonder if that position may be an option for Scocco with the Italian moving to the central role.

You certainly can't really see Poyet changing much about his system. He seems very set on it and has been for some years now.

Oscar Ustari, on the other hand, appears to be a total mystery. Vickery explained:

Ustari is one of the most bizarre cases I can ever remember. He is 27 now and, going back 8 or 9 years ago, we all thought that he was going to be Argentina's goalkeeper for the next 15 years. I watched him in the under 17s and under 20s for Argentina and for Independiente and he just seemed to have absolutely everything.

Big, commanding, good reflexes, stood up well, good kicker... you just thought he had everything.

In 2007 he went to Getafe in Spain with the idea being to play him a few times and then sell him on at a big profit. That was the idea. Unfortunately, when they played him he was absolutely terrible. I just don't know what happened to him. He lost all confidence and a goalkeeper with no confidence is a terrible terrible thing to have. He's never really properly regained it and never really subsequently nailed down a first team place anywhere.

He started off the 2008 Olympics in the Argentina team and suffered a serious injury, which didn't do him any good. So he came back to Argentina and played for Boca Juniors for a while but was awful. Not because of any technical flaws I think but just because his confidence had gone.

So this is a big test of Poyet's man-management. Because all the fundamentals, I think, are there. He just needs to get his confidence back.

Can Poyet, who speaks the language and comes from just across the water and should know the mentality, get him back to what he looked like being a few years ago? If so, there is a cracking goalkeeper there.

With no transfer fee and just a six-month contract, there appears to be little risk with Ustari. In actual fact, if he has as good an all-round game as Vickery claims, it could be a very clever signing by Poyet. Either he gets in his head and restores his confidence or he moves on with barely troubling the accountants.

It's not as if Vito Mannone looks like relinquishing his hold on the top spot any time soon anyway.

And what about Santiago Vergini? Well don't expect too much seems to be the recommendation:

Vergini is a big centre half who I think might struggle a little bit. I think he's vulnerable on the ground. I've seen him done too often.

Poyet kind of hinted at this. He said "English football is much much quicker than anything he's been used to and he's going to need time in order to adapt". He has perhaps been thrown in at the deep end.

Again, though, that seems to be a low-risk deal provided players like Carlos Cuellar and Valentin Roberge stick around as a safety net.

These are just the opinions of one man, it must be remembered. True, a very well-respected and informed opinion, but opinion nonetheless. You can never really know how players coming over from South America will deal with the Premier League

It is definitely an opinion worth taking notice of, though. Take from it what you want, really.

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