Off the pitch, behind closed doors, but always in the limelight of the media is where the series of Sunderland’s farcical administrative mishaps occur. The most recent of these was the phantom signing of Emmanuel Eboue on a free transfer – for unforeseen reasons, however, the deal fell through. But is this really a bad thing?
Eboue was (almost) brought in by Big Sam to provide Sunderland with an experienced option at right-back, potentially giving DeAndre Yedlin competition and effectively cutting the underperforming Billy Jones out of the picture. But this, I believe, was a course of action not worth the risk given the club’s situation, and my reason being is two-fold.
Firstly, our track record with snapping up ageing players that once represented table-topping sides is nothing if not dismal. This may not be an entirely apparent argument at first because so many of them were, for want of an understatement, forgettable. What we need at this stage of the season -moreso than any part of it - is a player who is capable of making an immediate impact, not echo a once talented prospect.
Need I give names of recent duds? Kyrgiakos? Benjani? Louis Saha? I guarantee you forgot at least one of those actually played for us.
At this stage of the season, signing a player like Eboue could promise a lot with a big name on paper, but a decline in ability and match fitness could come to the foreground and cost us a goal here and there. Something we can’t afford to do.
This isn’t necessarily to say that every veteran signing has disappointed; there’s every possibility that we could have picked up a Revelliere, which would’ve been a very positive addition to the squad. But on the flipside, it could’ve been an Andrea Dossena. Not worth the risk.
Secondly, the question should be asked of whether or not we actually need another option on the defensive flanks. I suppose it wouldn’t have hurt to have another head, but Yedlin and van Aanholt have worked well recently, and whilst Jones has been off the boil he’s not the worst choice in the world. I’m not saying that we don’t need another defender, it just doesn’t seem like a particularly pressing issue.
Regardless, what’s done is done. The only thing that’s certain is that Eboue won’t be joining us. Whilst there is talk of salvaging the financial dispute which rent his contract asunder, I doubt he’ll be given another chance on Wearside considering his age.
For the remainder of this season we’ll make do with what we have.