The balance of the Sunderland midfield has been a regular target of fans frustrations in recent seasons, and an area which we just haven’t been able to produce the right formula for thus far. A midfield creator has been top of many fans wish list for what feels like forever, and it was thought the impending loan signing of Leroy Fer would address this issue, however we are back to the drawing board in that regard after the Dutchman's failed medical.
This makes the signing of Yann M’Vila an interesting and surprising one to many, given the number of defensive minded midfielders we currently have within the squad. The signing may suggest that Dick Advocaat is looking to employ a pretty powerful midfield trio, which is capable of winning the ball back quickly to feed the likes of Jeremain Lens and others high up the pitch.
The chequered nature of M’Vila’s past off the field suggest the club are taking a bit of a risk from a disciplinary standpoint. However, the player has an excellent pedigree within Europe, and has been strongly linked to both Arsenal and Liverpool over recent seasons.
22 caps for France and a loan spell in Milan with Inter suggests this guy definitely has something about him if Dick and officials at the club can get him to let his football do the talking. Safe to say we can ill afford a passenger within the squad like Mario Balotelli in such an important season for the club.
The signing of M’Vila may signify greater reliance on a 4-2-3-1 set up, with Cattermole and the new man providing the steel in front of the back four. Employing two holding midfielders shouldn’t be seen as negative, Southampton have done it to great effect over recent seasons through Victor Wanyama and the recently departed Morgan Schneiderlin.
These players give licence to the four ahead to show positive intent in attacking situations, knowing they have the additional protection should the move break down. Both Cattermole and M’Vila are also excellent distributors on their day, so employing both within the same set up could also enhance our ability in transitioning quickly from defence to attack.
Although the signing of M’Vila has come at a time when we have depth in that particular position, it may just give Dick the freedom to tinker slightly with his favoured 4-3-3 set up. I for one am excited about the prospect of seeing some real bite at the core of our team, and two men who will make us horrible to play against.
I’m sure the creative players like Lens and Adam Johnson will be rubbing their hands at potentially playing in front of this duo with the freedom to go and express themselves in the areas that matter.
As fans of such an emotive club, seeing a ‘never say die’ spirit is incredibly important – it is why Lee Cattermole is worshipped every Saturday afternoon. Hopefully the signing of M’Vila can signify the start of a partnership, which evokes the passion and spirit of everyone within the stadium and allows us to create a fortress at the Stadium of Light once again.
One thing is for sure, I don’t think too many central midfielders in the Premier League will look forward to seeing those two names together on the opposite team sheet. That is something which is a step in the right direction.