It's finally past 11pm on 31st August. No need to keep checking Twitter every five minutes, no more watching YouTube videos of players you've never heard of and no more mentions of Jim White. The transfer window is closed and we can finally go back to matters on the pitch.
Whether you're happy with our business or not, there's nothing that can be done now. All we can do is hope that the personnel that David Moyes has at his disposal is enough to ensure we're not in a relegation battle. It's hard to be overly optimistic about the months ahead though. We're short up front and a fan favourite won't be signing a permanent deal until January at the very earliest. That being said, we've added depth to our defence and, despite losing a big influence at the back, we could end up realising it's a position that's stronger now than it was a few months ago. A clean bill of health and our central midfield isn't looking that bad either, especially if our record breaking signing lives up to his price tag.
I know that sounds like I'm sitting on the fence but that's exactly what Sunderland's summer transfer window has been. Every positive has had a negative to cancel it out. Lose a good manager, balanced by a good replacement. Lose Younes Kaboul but keep Lamine Kone, while adding Papy Djilobodji and Jason Denayer. Held to ransom to Rubin Kazan to sign Yann M'Vila now, rather than wait and get him for free in January, but spend €16 million on Didier Ndong.
You could keep going on that theme for a while and it proves that this isn't a terrible window, but it isn't a great one. It's just neutral. Despite a lot of drama, it's left me neither filled with excitement or thoroughly depressed. It's just a bit boring. But that in itself is pretty mental. If you told me a couple of months ago that we'd be breaking our transfer record on deadline day, I'd have been pretty jubilant. Just mere hours after the Ndong deal had been confirmed though I, and many other supporters, had just forgotten about it. I don't know if we're just used to the chaos of the club we support or if extortionate transfer fees have just been normalised this summer.
We all know why that major transfer breakthrough was overshadowed though - Yann M'Vila. When he Instragramed a picture of Heathrow airport we all thought it was finally happening. Yann was coming back and it was time for #CansForYann. God that feels a lifetime ago now. We all know what happened though, or rather, we don't know and therein lies the frustration. Rumours of a pre-contract agreement between Sunderland and M'Vila have given us all something to cling on to. With Kazan demanding crazy money for a player with less than six months on his current contract, I can totally understand why we wouldn't pay the reported £7 million for him now. I think it's fair to say that we all agree with that. It would be nice to have some clarity on the issue but we don't know how much the club can say about a player who still isn't there's. Maybe if the player hadn't revealed he'd flown into the country, then we wouldn't have got our hopes up so much. There's no fun in that though.
I guess shouting "ANNOUNCE M'VILA" at the poor intern running @SunderlandAFC will just have to go on for another four months.
Our midfield does have enough to sustain itself without M'Vila, at least until the winter window. Jan Kirchhoff should be fit for our next game against Everton and Didier Ndong will soon be lining up with him, how soon that is depends on if a suspension carries over from France. A little later, we'll have Lee Cattermole fully fit and Moyes will be looking to continue rebuilding Jack Rodwell's Sunderland career. It'll mean we don't have to rely on the ageing legs of Steven Pienaar every week and it should allow Lynden Gooch to be used in a more attacking role, where he's much better suited. If that's the basic thinking behind not paying over the odds for Yann The Man now, then fair enough.
I find it hard to be sympathetic towards Moyes and the club for not signing a recognised striker though. Not addressing this is worse than M'Vila not returning. Even at the end of last season, everyone knew that we'd have to provide Jermain Defoe with a deputy. So why were we still scrambling around on deadline day? Surely Fabio Borini's injury should have made this position even more of a priority? Should Defoe pick up an injury we'll be looking to either Duncan Watmore or the even less experienced Joel Asoro, to provide what Defoe has. That's worrying. We have good options in the attacking midfield position with Wahbi Khazri and the addition of Adnan Januzaj, Lynden Gooch starting to breakthrough is also welcome, but a couple of injuries to attackers and we look significantly weaker. It looks like we'll have to hope for the best in the free agent market.
There are similar worries about our current goalkeeping options but Sunderland are reportedly still trying to work out a deal for Boavista player Mika Domingues. The portoguese stopper's move to Wearside seemed to have broken down but Sunderland are still hopeful of finalising it, after both clubs claim that all the relevant paper work had been lodged at the required time. If it comes off than Jordan Pickford has adequate competition until Vito Mannone returns and we can be assured of our options in goal.
In front of whoever ends up playing in nets, we look to be in good shape as well. Against Southampton, the back four looked organised and sturdy. Keeping Lamine Kone should prove to be hugely important and, although he has some rushes of blood to the end when making challenges, there's promising signs being offered by Papy Djilobodji. If Papy is finding it hard then Jason Denayer is ready to step up and prove why, at only 21 years old, he was called up to Belgium's squad for Euro 2016. Both Denayer and Djilobodji are good in possession too, a great attribute and something you don't often see in a Sunderland defender. As for the full backs, if Patrick van Aanholt keeps playing that he has for the majority of this year and Javier Manquillo started as he means to continue on his debut, then we'll be fine at the back.
So after a turbulent transfer window, we've ended up with a decent starting eleven when everyone is fit. It's a starting line up that can keep us out of trouble, I genuinely believe that. We haven't added any depth to it though and we need to hope that new signings like Paddy McNair and Donald Love will vastly improve on their early showings, if they need to be called upon.
We're not worse off than we were in May but have we progressed at all? It's up to David Moyes to prove that we have.