I don’t think that any of us can deny that this summer's transfer window was - in terms of the Yann M’Vila transfer situation at least - a bit of a God-damn mess. The fans during that period were screaming for Ellis Short to open his wallet and simply bite the bullet on Rubin Kazan’s asking price of, allegedly, £7m. Few supporters, and indeed football columnists, believed it was a fair fee with months remaining on his contract, but just as few believed it was worth the risk of biding our time.
Now in October and occupying the bottom spot in the Premier League table, questions are being raised about David Moyes ability to motivate the team, let alone our pre-season transfer business - and somewhere near the top of that list of questions posed is "shouldn't we have just signed M'Vila when we had the chance?"
The mind boggles as to why we did hold out, especially considering that we spent £13m on a player the very same day on a whim - the same player who is now part of the side that Moyes claimed is inexperienced. Perhaps signing players that need to time to adapt then instead of ones that already have wasn't such a great idea.
M'Vila's efficient tackling that last season is something we dearly miss. Very rarely did he lose a midfield battle and very rarely did he pick up a booking for his troubles - he was actually only carded once through the entire campaign. Whilst it would unfair to compare his apparent replacement Didier Ndong so early in his Sunderland career, I think it would be a fair point to raise how many fouls the midfielder has conceded so far in comparison. I would put this down to the fact the gap in the team left by the Rubin Kazan midfielder is one that we simply haven’t filled.
Deemed in most quarters as a ball-winning midfielder, what we seemingly miss most of all is his ability to create from deep. We don’t have a player in the current starting eleven who has that ability to turn defence into attack with one simple pass.
An interesting statistic from his season on Wearside is the amount of chances he created, 46 in total; double the amount created by any other player. Baring in mind he spent much of the first six months here in a defensive midfield role, this statistic really hammers home how much we miss his ability to distribute the ball with the kind of efficiency we simply don’t have at the club currently - it’s no real surprise that he was our second highest assist-maker.
Whilst the injuries to Jan Kirchhoff, Lee Cattermole and perhaps even Sebastian Larsson haven’t helped our midfield’s woes, it’s probably worth noting that Moyes knew of Larsson’s long term injury, Cattermole’s ongoing hip problems and Jan’s penchant for a niggle. It was perhaps more than just a risk to dilly-dally on the move to bring our bearded, golden-toothed fan favourite back home.
The current midfield trio of Ndong, Paddy McNair and Jack Rodwell are totally different players - their ball-winning and chance-creating abilities leave very little to be desired.
Hindsight, as wonderful as it is, proves that we probably should have just gone ahead and brought M'Vila to the club. Who knows, it might be too late once January comes.