Year after year at Sunderland we’re too traditional in our policy for signing new players. You’ll know exactly what I mean - the transfer window comes around and instead of being progressive in our approach towards player recruitment, we sign a batch of “seasoned pros” who are, for whatever reason, seemingly no longer wanted at their current clubs. We do it because they seemingly have plenty of pedigree, bags of experience, and ultimately they know what it takes to get the job done.
Except, quite often they don’t. It’s a myth, perpetuated by manager after manager that walks through the door at the Academy of Light.
Despite his upturn in form since Chris Coleman arrived it would be fair to say that, since arriving, Darron Gibson has not really used his experience to help propel us out of danger. No-one who has witnessed this season’s performances could really say that he has provided us with anything more than Gooch or McNair or Honeyman could perhaps offer.
Yet he was our big-name signing in the January window last season. If nothing else shows how far we’ve fallen, then let that be the prime example.
Even our old-guard have been largely to blame for some of this season’s horror shows. As soon as the game appears to be drifting away from us, they down tools and hold aloft their little white flag. They have settled into a losing mentality that is negatively impacting the club.
We need them to be the first to stand up to failure and do their utmost to stop the rot. It’s certainly something they used to do in the past. John O’Shea has been hung out to dry by previous managers only to be brought back in for our recurring end-of-season run. Cattermole’s battling performance away at Norwich two seasons ago shows what he is capable of when he chooses to lead the vanguard as opposed to waving the white flag.
This soft under-belly and instant capitulation after going a goal down has crept in and become a serious issue in the last few seasons - and our experienced leaders on the pitch should be the first to stand up and be counted.
That should be one of the key reasons for bringing them in. If they’ve “been there and seen it all” then surely they can help us put things right. But this is not happening and they are simply not justifying the wages that they are paid.
Our short-term approach to finite fixes in the transfer market is not a recent problem though. For many years we’ve attempted to apply bandages to deep wounds, and with each passing season it has become harder and harder to mask over the issues that we face.
I hope that Coleman’s first window in charge is the one that finally breaks the pattern. We need a culture shift in our transfer policy.
I want young, hungry players who are willing to learn on the job. In Coleman, we finally have someone who can educate them and make them better. Coleman is someone who has proven he can take a young group of struggling players (Wales - with the exception of Bale, Williams, and Ramsey) and turn them into a force greater than the sum of its parts.
I’m not alone in being more excited about Chris Coleman than any of the other mangers we’ve brought in recently. He is fighting hard to win back a Sunderland crowd whose incredible patience has been wearing thin.
I’m not expecting big money transfers next month. In fact, I’m really not expecting us to spend much money at all. However, with what little money we do have, I do not want to see it wasted on another “seasoned pro”. Not again.
We must now be realistic, and bring in players that are driven and desperate to make a name for themselves in the game. Not players who think they’ve already made it because they can pocket tens of thousands for downing tools.
Give me pluck over pedigree. I’d rather see fight in a player’s eyes than just another Jack Rodwell plodding around happy to collect his latest paycheck.
Please Chris Coleman, please break the cycle of transfer window disappointment.