They may still be lazy links, easy content for column writers with precious little else to fill their Sunderland-related pages; but they aren’t going away – David Moyes will raid Manchester United for Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj.
Of course, managers new at a club will naturally look to players they have previously worked with, but does this also highlight the scale of Moyes’ task at Sunderland? Did the club simply not have anyone else highlighted in the scouting reports? Is this all we can come up with?
What happened to Sam Allardyce’s dossier? The brown paper envelope he passed to Moyes, was it shredded or did it never actually exist? And, truth be told, Sunderland can’t afford them both anyway, not permanently.
Of course both would be excellent signings for Sunderland, a club who has benefited hugely from former Manchester United players in recent years. John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Johnny Evans and Dwight Yorke. Bringing in a Sir Alex Ferguson-raised player almost guaranteed a certain level of class and aptitude. What Louis Van Gaal did to Fellaini and Januzaj, however, time will tell.
Fellaini, at 28 is still part of Jose Mourinho’s plans, just. He hasn’t been told to leave anyway, but he’s unlikely to be anything more than a bench warmer at best; although Mourinho does like a battler in his sides so there is scope for him; particularly as a back up to Paul Pogba. Regardless, Fellaini become something of a scapegoat for Van Gaal’s perceived failings last season and United fans would likely be glad to see the back of them.
Those same United fans, who are unable to accept being second best at anything, watched in horror as Leicester powered their way to the title last season, with a pace and verve Van Gaal’s army could not match. Speed and power became a smash hit, possession suddenly went out of fashion and ugly street fighting Vardy-esque strikers became the vogue. Hardly the stuff of the Manchester United dynasty. While Riyad Mahrez was swashbuckling to the title, Marouane Fellaini was rooted to the spot, misplacing headers and giving fouls away.
Fellaini suits Moyes better perhaps. He spent five years at Everton under Sunderland’s new manager and he has a physicality which should suit a team battling around the lower to middle reaches of the table. A fee of £20m has been mooted for his signature, a fee Sunderland would be unlikely to pay for a 28 year old. Something closer to the original £13m which was suggested, would be closer to the figure Ellis Short might authorise.
As for Januzaj, he became ‘world class’ overnight at the tender age of eighteen having scored two goals against a bottom of the table Sunderland side which featured such luminaries as Kieron Westwood, Ondrej Celustka and Jozy Altidore. But, he clearly possesses talent and Sunderland lack bona fide wingers, so he would instantly improve the options available at Moyes’ disposal. For the player - he gets a regular starting berth and the deal makes perfect sense. Again though, Sunderland would baulk at the asking price of £20m - £25m and a loan deal is probably the only mechanism by which we will see him at the Stadium of Light next season.
For one thing, such swoops being pondered at the tail end of pre-season suggests Sunderland have, or had, no plan. We’ve reached the point at which the new season is about to start and we’ve completely run out of ideas; so we’ll see if the manager’s former club will do us a favour and knock a few bob off a couple of players he used to like. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see us linked with Andrea Pereira and James Wilson next, if we haven’t already.
Moyes building an identity is all well and good and he’s better qualified for it than most of his predecessors. It’s just – this is a club who builds a new identity every six to nine months as the next bloke comes in. There’s no strategy is there and after all that kerfuffle this summer, Sam Allardyce didn’t actually leave a blue print or an infrastructure did he? If there was such a thing, we would have seen it in operation at a pace by now.
Unless something changes in the next week or so, and a new sense of reality dawns at Sunderland, it’s certainly difficult to see both of these mooted transfers happening. The desire to spend on proven Premier League players who are at a peak, or who possess the potential to get there, simply does not exist. If there is a transfer strategy or even a budget in place, it isn’t clear exactly what it is.
The mechanisms at the club appear to work slowly and ponder over bids and deals to the point of quibbling over minutiae. Yedlin has been and gone whilst Sunderland hedged, Yann M’Vila remains in Russia whilst trivialities are pondered; will someone grasp the nettle? David Moyes, time for a revolution and a kick up the pants.