James - YES!
I’m not panicking, yet, and there’s over a month until the start of the season; and I genuinely believe that in Sam Allardyce we have the best man for the job, but two things concern me. One is that to compete in the league next year we need to be matching, or exceeding the performance of several clubs in the transfer window this summer; and second is the uncertainty surrounding the club at the moment.
Only two Premier League clubs have yet to sign a player since the summer transfer window opened nine days ago – Stoke and Sunderland; and Stoke finished ninth, so presumably they have an awful less ‘work’ to do than us.
Since the window opened, over forty players have already been signed to Premier League clubs with an average outlay per head of around £8.6m. Of course, that figure is skewed by the £30m-plus signings of Xhaka, Mane and Batshuayi. But, even clubs in the bottom half are laying out money already.
The clubs who either finished lower than tenth place last season or who have just been promoted, are presumably those that we either need to keep pace with or better. Eighteen players have already been snapped up by those ten clubs, with an average spend so far approaching £12m in total or £5m per player. Middlesbrough have spent £16m, Watford £23m and Crystal Palace £26m.
Sunderland are being linked with players, but only usually as an afterthought – ‘X Player linked with Leicester, Southampton, Lyon and Sunderland’, ‘Y Player reportedly a target for West Ham, Everton and Sunderland’. Let’s face it, we’re not an appealing prospect or a big draw so we have to work that bit harder.
There’s a growing air of uncertainty as fans have watched the fallout from Roy Hodgson’s England failure grow into a startling list of the great and the good vouching for Sam Allardyce as the best man for the national team job. We have some decent players, but not a decent squad and it’s a squad which is crying out for an injection still.
That is moderately terrifying, because Allardyce appears to be the one person at the club who actually knows what he’s doing. Almost singlehandedly he kept us up and apart from Martin Glover, who he brought in in January, and the new man Martin Bain as CEO, the infrastructure, managerial and executive positions at the cub remain filled by the same folk who have overseen years of dismal mismanagement.
I can’t decide whether the Santon fiasco was a result of the same old same old, a bit of a cock up, or just a victim of circumstance. I’m sure Martin Bain is no mug and he’ll have realised what needs doing already, but we only have a few weeks until the season starts. If Allardyce does leave, and supposedly the board have yet to consider that as a possibility, let alone thought about a contingency plan, where does that leave us? With no one who has the ability to make this window a success I fear. A few good Allardyce signings would do us the world of good.
By this time last year, stories were starting to appear suggesting fans were growing concerned by the lack of transfer activity. Dick Advocaat had to play a game of brinksmanship that did us no good. I’m still not convinced that Allardyce didn’t in January either, because until the end of the window it looked like we weren’t going to bring anyone in. It’s almost a tradition now, but not a healthy one.
Sam Allardyce and the goodwill he has generated have bought the club a few extra weeks in leeway before we start to panic. We do this every year, and every year it does us no good whatsoever as we give the rest of the Premier League a head start. But, if, say West Brom sign Diafra Sahko and pull that rug from under our feet, questions will start to be asked.
Gav - No!
The time to be concerned is not now.
We are officially just twelve days into the transfer window, and with around seven weeks left of it to run we have to realise that if come the end of August we still haven't signed a player we will have cause for concern.
And if anyone has any fears, I urge them to go back and watch the two interviews that Sam Allardyce has done with SAFC.com in the last week from Austria. In his first, five days ago, Sam told us that he was focusing on his main targets and not free transfers or loans.
Fair enough, right?
Well in that time we've seen a deal collapse for Davide Santon, though privately you would have to feel that we are working very hard on transfers and that it's more a case of circumstance - particularly with Santon, who was all but signed until there were discrepancies with his contract that both sides couldn't agree upon. That happens probably more often than we realise.
Due to the huge coverage of the Santon transfer in the media, the club did something that they never do and released a statement to inform the fans that the Inter Milan right back wouldn't be coming to Sunderland after all.
Then, two days ago, Sam confirmed that we were working very hard on transfers and exclaimed that he was incredibly frustrated that he didn't have any new players as part of his pre-season squad, noting the breakdown in the Santon deal as one particular disappointment.
So yes, we're getting some pretty decent coverage from within the club that we just aren't used to, and I feel that though I appreciate their honesty as opposed to letting news seep out through the press, it doesn't really help the state of mind of those fans that panic at everything.
What do we know? Well, we know that the Santon deal collapsed. Sam told us so.
We also know that the remit is to secure our priority targets, and that is going to take time.
So, when the club are being as open as they are, I can see why people might be concerned but I urge you to remember that it's very early days and that, amongst the disappointment, we need to realise that the likes of Allardyce and Bain have shown that they aren't just sitting around scratching their backsides.
Just be patient.
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