Sunderland have been notorious in recent years for spending large sums of money on players who just haven’t given any bang for their buck. Jack Rodwell, Fabio Borini, and Papy Djilibodji are but several recent additions who haven’t lived up to their billing as of yet, despite the hefty sums forked out in acquiring their services.
However, the recent additions of Aiden McGeady and James Vaughan could perhaps prove to be more than mere shrewd signings; they potentially signal a huge shift in the club’s approach to player trading.
Rather than spending big in an attempt at finding some modicum of success, the club have instead seemingly identified players who will be able to provide some much needed quality albeit without the large price tag. We’ve gone practical Primark in favour of pretentious Prada, and for many of us that’s welcome news.
In fact, after the club’s interest in James Vaughan was confirmed yesterday in wake of the victory away to Livingston, we polled you asking if you saw his potential signing as a positive one.
Sunderland need 3, maybe 4 strikers. Is James Vaughan - at £900k - a sensible signing?— Roker Report (@RokerReport) July 12, 2017
The numbers speak for themselves as the majority of Sunderland fans are pleased with the club’s sensible approach to life in the Championship. We aren’t spending enormous sums of money on players, instead we are identifying players who want a chance at success, and can be acquired to do so at a reasonable price.
You always get the occasional dafty who decries our practical approach as “sh*te” or “showing no ambition”, yet if you simply look at the players we have acquired and the deals negotiated in order to bring them to the club then it’s hard to be overly critical.
Vaughan scored 24 goals last season for a struggling Bury side in League One and was signed for a fee believed to be around £500,000 initially. McGeady managed 8 goals and 9 assists for Grayson’s previous side, Preston, and was brought in for the alleged paltry sum of £250,000 from big-spending Everton, who have also loaned us young talents Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway.
That’s four players brought into the club for less than £1,000,000. Four talented players who will add to the squad’s overall capability rather than just merely making up numbers. Surely that’s good business?
I don’t think anyone is arguing that these are stellar signings - but then again we’ve tried that and failed rather spectacularly - just look at our financial records. Altidore, Gyan, Lens and Giaccherini go some way to proving the notion that big fees don’t guarantee success; instead, this summer’s signings offer more than mere numbers - they demonstrate that the club have learned from their previous mistakes.
These signings mark a strategy of relatively low-risk deals that are grounded in sound logic, and in a bizarre way that has me just as excited as chasing the flashy players of years gone by. Finally we look like a club with a plan and know where they want to be. Grayson hasn’t strayed too far from what he knows, but then again these players aren’t has-beens; two of them are youngster with bags of potential whilst McGeady and Vaughan have signed on the back of fantastic campaigns for their former clubs.
Speaking about Vaughan, Grayson said:
James has good experience and he scored a lot of goals last year. He’s a player who will come into the squad and give us something different because I think we were missing a striker with a physical presence – and he certainly brings that attribute. He’s mobile, he knows where the goal is and he fits in with the ethos that we’re trying to bring to Sunderland.
The ethos that Grayson touches on is really epitomised by these signings: no frills yet eager to succeed. Gone are the egos and bad eggs (for the most part), and in their place are talented grafters like McGeady and Vaughan - keen to prove that they can take a big club forward. Grayson himself is a realistic appointment who seems determined to find success here, and it’s this kind of character that our club so desperately needs going forward.
We’ve lacked an identity for years now, but the signings making their way to the club right now look to be cultivating one that we can all buy into... albeit at a reduced price.