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Captain's Blog: Forget Transfer Window Hype - Sunderland's Season Starts Now

The transfer window and its accompanying insanity has mercifully gone away. Now it's time for Sunderland to create for themselves what the transfer window realistically can never realistically give them - a genuine edge.

Richard Sellers

For me, it's one of football's great double standards. All summer long, fans whinge, complain and lament the ridiculous overhyping of the transfer window before proceeding to attach an almost obsessive level of over-importance to it.

Now, please don't think me a hypocrite here - I'm fully aware that at times I am as guilty of this strange modern-day football circus as the next man. The ticking clock and twenty-four hour speculation creates a sense of dramatic urgency, a web in which it's tough to not find yourself entangled.

But let's be honest - it's a load of total nonsense, and it's an annoying load of nonsense because it overlaps with and generally undermines the actual football being played.

Had Sunderland beaten Queens Park Rangers rather than slipped to a narrow defeat, and it could have easily gone either way, it's likely that the deadline day business of bringing in a full Argentinian international and a full Uruguayan international, neither yet in their late-twenties and both fresh from appearances in the World Cup finals in Brazil, would have been viewed with considerably greater optimism.

However, with the transfer window still being open it was too easy just to proclaim the squad rubbish and demand instant expensively assembled solutions to emotionally exaggerated irritants.

The biggest irritant of all though, well, for me at least, is the way the second the window closes we are bombarded with wave upon wave of so-called ‘experts' who read a list of names, many of which they are far from familiar with, and start making concise conclusions and declarations regarding who definitely is rubbish this season, who ‘won' the transfer window, and so on and so forth. Just when did football become reduced to lists and paper?

I remember when Peter Reid breezed into Sunderland back in 1995 and with one solitary summer signing - that of Paul Bracewell for a nominal fee - instantly transformed his squad from perennial second tier strugglers to champions.

Granted, that was a lower level of football that we are at now, but the transformation was about as extraordinary as you will see. It was also, crucially, before the days of British transfer windows. I can't help but feel that was significant.

Safe in the knowledge that he could enter the market at his discretion any time up to the end of March, Reid was free to concentrate on the real difference-maker in football - coaching and crafting a team on the training ground. In short, he was able to work to his own schedule, allowing him to first concentrate on building a team who master the basics before enhancing it with choice additions from the transfer market when the time was right.

Nowadays it's all arse over face. Nowadays managers feel pressure to quickly assemble a squad of new players and then mould them into a team. It has turned our game into a circus of short-termism; a giant annual game of Russian Roulette.

Somehow, we've all been duped into blindly accepting the terms of this game too. We tell ourselves that it's the same(ish) for everyone, we all know the rules so let's just get on with it and make sure we deliver a flashy and ego-satisfying transfer window - let's make sure we are not the club who end up with the bullet in the head.

We tell ourselves that time for coaching and a gradual development of a team is a luxury we can no longer afford in the full-pelt yearly Premier League scramble for safety.

I think that's rubbish, personally. I think that consistency of coaching and identity has never been more important. In fact, don't be fooled into thinking football is a leopard that has changed its spots, it's still THE most important thing. We just seem to have lost the patience for it. Managers, head coaches, or whatever they are being called these days will always be the single greatest influence on a club's fortunes and no amount of yellow ties on Sky Sports News will ever convince me otherwise.

Therefore you certainly won't catch me complaining about the fact that there can be no more new arrivals until the New Year now. The squad in place is not significantly better or worse than half the rest of the division. Without some cash-happy Sheikh or oil baron, the transfer market is never likely to provide Sunderland with a significant edge in the Premier League.

The only edge we are ever likely to create for ourselves is on the training pitch. It's not as dramatic as deadline day and there are no shortcuts involved, but it's our best shot at genuine improvement.

So, as far as I'm concerned at least, it's now very much a case of Sunderland's season starts now. Over to you, Gus Poyet.  Let's hope you're as good as your football suggested you could be towards the end of last season.

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