The transfer market, as far as Sunderland is concerned, is stagnant. Save for the odd uninspiring trialist, the club has been entirely devoid of any incoming summer business – and yet, despite this, we’re still in the best position we’ve been for years.
You’d be understood for thinking this angle of thought is completely implausible, but hear me out.
For starters, the squad that remains from last season’s annual safety scramble is a good one, far surpassing the ensemble of misfits that cleared the finish line season upon season ago. This puts us at an immediate advantage – we won’t be hearing the words "massive overhaul" in a single presser.
It’s in my understanding that the real damage happens consistently when managers attempt an overhaul in order to entirely reshape a Sunderland side to their liking. If a manager thinks they can completely change a team’s structure and philosophy that was only just recently established from the previous manager, then their aspirations are far too idealistic – there’s no way the shape of a team can shift so easily.
Take the transition from Poyet to Advocaat as a prime example. Gus played on the defensive at every possible opportunity, and once we’d finally had enough of the mind-numbing tedium that entailed, we brought in Advocaat – a man whose primary focus (once he apprehensively returned) was to go on the attack with his trademark 4-3-3. He needed – you guessed it – a massive overhaul to change our fortunes around.
Look how that worked out for him.
This puts a lot of emphasis on the fact that our squad already has a solid foundation which Moyes will adjust, rather than completely reform. This takes a lot of pressure off the Scotsman, as it means we only really need three, four players max through the door, rather than a virtually new eleven.
What’s more – previous managers would enter the summer market having to fight a war on two fronts: with these two figurative adversaries being squad depth and genuine quality. We’ve got the latter, all we really need to do is work on the former.
But there’s no time to brag about how fortunate we are to unearth the gem that is Kirchhoff, nor can we get too hung up on Kone battering that Geordie lad on Twitter – we need to deepen the squad depth, and we need to do it now!
I see the current Sunderland roster as a fragmented but expensive antique, held in place by a long, singular wire. The seldom successes in great signings of previous managers brought all the pieces together to form it, and the wire holds those pieces together. Take the wire away, the whole thing falls apart. Our current team starts picking up knocks, and the same thing happens to it, too.
Because of our lack of squad depth, there’s not many different options for putting together a genuine strong team. Just for perspective, imagine turning out away at Man City without Defoe and Kirchhoff. A lot of faith is immediately lost in our side, and there’s few places to look for reliable backup.
This is a worry which is, no doubt, on the mind of every fan. Not only do we need players through the door, we need names that people can be proud to say we’ve signed. Players who can be the first talking point at the pub. Players like that.
We can still be optimistic about our current transfer situation, but if the club dawdles any longer, we’re going to run out of these consolations.