There should be no doubt in any Sunderland fans’ mind that Lamine Kone doesn’t want to be here. It should also be equally as apparent that he’s looked for a way out ever since the Summer of last year.
If the bloke was sidling toward a closed exit door back when we were still in the Premier League, he’ll be beating his fists against it now - praying a West Ham or West Brom are on the other side, ready to open it.
If he has any hope of one of those aforementioned clubs, or any club of the same standard, showing an interest in him, he’s going to need a string of solid upcoming performances to assure them that the lumbering enforcer is a worthy investment.
So for his remaining games at Sunderland, it would be logical to expect him to put himself in the shop window.
But what does this mean for the teams overall performance? Does Kone’s desperate attempt to escape the Championship through self-advertisement help or hinder the team’s overall performance?
All things considered, I believe it will be highly beneficial to both the team and the fans in more ways than one.
If Kone is placing himself in the shop window by performing with the physicality, composure and tenacity he’s capable of, then obviously we’re going to a see a lot more of the ‘Allardycian’ Kone than his drab, ‘Moyesian’ counterpart.
The bloke is only going to get out of the Championship and attract top-tier interest by playing football to a standard that reflects his ambition. But there’s a lot more to it than just that. By accepting the fact that Kone is on his way, and that he’ll be at his best in order to make sure that is indeed the case, we lose the toxic, inferiority complex we’ve subconsciously developed by “depending” on him to turn out good performances.
What the hell does that mean? Don’t worry, I’m not performing some bizarre, psychoanalysis on the Wearside faithful mid-article, the point being made here is simple; last season Kone consistently underwhelmed us with lazy, lacklustre showings in clear protest at having to continue his career in a red-and-white shirt - he even threw in the odd spontaneous “injury” to further reinforce his self-assured indignation - and yet still we kept getting our hopes up.
We saw half a season’s worth of just how much he’s capable of under Allardyce and proceeded to pin our hopes of a revival of that form every time we saw the Ivorian’s name on our team sheet. The mere mention of Kone’s name dared us to believe he’d play as well as we know he could, yet he would continuously disappoint and keep us daring.
This effectively makes his imminent departure mutually beneficial. We’re seeing the best of him as he performs out of sheer desperation, safe in the knowledge that we’re getting resolute defensive displays from a player who’s bricking at the prospect of spending a chapter of his career in the Championship, and will no doubt be replaced by a centre-back willing to graft because, as per Simon Grayson’s transfer policy, they will want to play for the shirt.
With any luck, Kone will leave for a significant sum of money. Should Grayson receive a reasonable portion of that transfer fee it would appear likely that a quality player at this level would be the replacement that fills the void. Who that is and where they’ll come from, we don’t know, but we need to make the transition regardless.
Taking all of this into consideration, I’m happy for Kone to graft for a move away and for us to replace him with someone who’ll play for the shirt and the fans as opposed to a pay packet and league validation. It’s a mutually beneficial move for the club, the fans and the player himself.