Seeing as this is the first Scout and About instalment since the appointment of Simon Grayson, I’d like to welcome him to the club and place on record that I think he is precisely what Sunderland need.
Those who have read previous episodes of Scout and About will know that my views regarding both managerial appointments and player recruitment should include the fulfillment of one key criteria: that a manager or a player should see Sunderland as a step up in their career. Upon joining, they should see the club as an opportunity to develop themselves and improve their craft, and Grayson certainly ticks that box.
He has proven himself to be a shrewd operator, identifying players and building a squad with the right balance of youthful exuberance and experienced heads. In addition to that, he has shown he can overachieve on a shoestring budget and make his teams tremendously difficult to beat – all things that previous Sunderland managers of recent years – barring one - have failed at spectacularly.
Despite the fact that the club has been dragged through the mill, put back in and dragged through again before getting a kicking on the deck, Sunderland AFC should still be a big draw. We boast world-class training facilities, one of the largest capacity stadiums in the country and fill it with some of the most ardent fans in the land. In the Championship, being a ‘big club’ can often mean nothing, but anything that can help attract the right type of player must be utilised and sold to its maximum extent.
I expect Simon Grayson to target some of the solid squad he put together at Preston over the coming weeks, but this week’s Scout and About takes a look at one of League One’s most exciting young players, Callum Camps.
Rochdale impressed in League One last season, ultimately finishing 9th in an outrageously clustered top half, narrowly missing out on the final play off spot. At the heart of Keith Hill’s outfit is Callum Camps - a home-grown talent and an all-action midfielder who has shown great consistency and maturity in turning himself into one of Rochdale’s most important players.
Camps is a combative midfielder who can play in a defensive role if required, but he’s undoubtedly at his most effective when given the freedom to demonstrate his natural flair and creativity in an advanced position. He has excellent vision and good pace, and has also shown to have an assured composure in front of goal. Camps is not shy of having a pop at goal from range, and is aggressive in the tackle to boot.
Since his debut in 2013, Camps has made 90 league appearances for Rochdale, with 44 of them (37 starts) coming in the 2016/17 season. He enjoyed his most successful goalscoring season last year also, contributing eight goals from midfield in addition to a couple of assists.
After making his mark in League One and obtaining a decent amount of experience in a difficult league at a young age, it would seem like the right time to make the step up to the Championship. He has very recently signed a contract extension with Dale, but in today’s game that doesn’t always mean a great deal and could even be a ploy for Dale to play a stronger hand when dealing with incoming bids for their prized asset.
Although Camps would likely cost upwards of £2m, it would be a solid investment in a young player who has proved himself in a demanding league. If there’s one area of Sunderland’s squad that isn’t threadbare, it’s (relatively speaking) the centre of midfield. However, the lack of goals and dynamism from midfield over the past few seasons cannot be ignored, and Camps could well be the answer to that particular conundrum.