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Lee Congerton's 'To-Do' List: How Can DoF Make His Mark This Summer?

We thought we'd give a helping hand to the new Director of Football, Lee Congerton, because we are nice like that and stuff. We've basically solved Sunderland. You're welcome.

The director of football is a polarising position in football. It is rare to find a football fan without an opinion on the job and it's relevance in modern football.

Examples are plentiful of both success and failures, meaning it bears little relevance in the context of the discussion. Rather the best judge is the individual.

The most exciting facet of his resumé remains his time at Chelsea. Working with the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Fabio Borini, and Ryan Bertrand -- it is the kind of experience that could move Sunderland's academy up to the next level.

A busy man, it is important his to-do list is outlined quickly and clearly, so the club can begin pre-season with all the required parts of the puzzle.

Sign a creative midfielder

Paolo Di Canio often spoke of finding: "The player with the keys to the house."

Going into the season he was still looking for that player. His absence highlighted itself on the opening day of the season and numerous times there after. It could be argued Di Canio eventually got his man in Ki Sung-Yeung, but he is now returning to Swansea -- future unknown.

Not a task solely for Congerton, it will require conversations with Gus Poyet. Either way the pair must isolate and acquire a creative midfielder. That could be Ki, it could be a completely new player, but it must be achieved. The club often struggled to break teams down last season, particularly at home, and this was due to the lack of a creator in a central area.

Replace the important loan players

Congerton has discussed using the loan market again which is understandable. The glut of players at top clubs facilitates good quality loan players being made available. However it could be argued that Sunderland's best players last season were all temporary arrivals.

Ki, Fabio Borini, Marcos Alonso, only Vito Mannone is still at the club meaning replacements must be sought and sought quickly. In an idea situation, those would be long term investments in an attempt to provide stability to the club and continuity. The club have been shrewd to make a clutch of free transfers from clubs based in England.

Billy Jones, Jordi Gomez and Costel Pantilimon all have Premier League experience and will require next to no time adjusting to their new surroundings. That was a prominent issue last season as 14 new faces arrived at the training ground, with few speaking English or being familiar with the league.

Implement a recognised structure and philosophy for the academy

The North East has always had a strong blood line of young players. In recent times both Jordan Henderson and Jack Colback have graduated from the Academy of Light. Yet looking at near neighbours Middlesbrough produces a tinge of envy.

Boro have consistently produced talent, and it would be fantastic to see a player in the ilk of Adam Johnson come through the club's ranks. Equally with the shift in rules for players that are homegrown and produced by the club, it is vital the groundwork is done now.

Congerton has fantastic experience in this realm having been at Chelsea. Reportedly keen to change the current structure, it is important he implements a top down strategy that sees a consistency from the first team until the U18's.

With the likes of Lynden Gooch producing well for the development squad, the club must begin to maximise the academy's potential, and that comes through the work of Congerton.

Organise development for the fringes of the squad

In the same way Sunderland can bring in exciting loan players, they must now also use that same market to develop their own talents.

Players such as El Hadji-Ba currently sit in limbo. Not good enough to start for the first team, the benefit of playing development squad games is minimal. He requires competitive first team football at a strong standard to encourage his game.

More importantly he needs to move to a club that will allow his talents to flourish and play in a way that is at least similar to the tactical ideology Gus Poyet is proposing. With talk of a potential B-League rife, this is where Congerton must use his contacts and knowledge of the football landscape.

Dropping Ba to just any old championship club will do little for him, the moves must be tailored to the individual and beneficial to their development.

Loans abroad are unlikely to fulfil that requirement. Realistically they are merely glorified shop windows. Rather the players need to be familiarised to English football as quickly as possible. Charis Mavrias is perhaps another case in point. The Greek winger certainly has the combination of talents to succeed in England, but he must now learn the nuances of the English game through a loan deal.


All in all Congerton will be a man with few free hours. He must be ubiquitous at the football club and feed into every avenue of footballing matters. Sunderland has been a club promised many revolutions by many different managers, each one seemingly representing the antithesis of their predecessor.

Now comes an opportunity to truly forge an identity and move forward as a football club, an opportunity that cannot afford to be passed up after another narrow escape last season.

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