Sunderland chief executive Martin Bain has said ‘very good’ goalkeeper Vito Mannone was allowed to leave for Reading in order to cash in on the player in the final year of his contract.
In this week’s round of interviews with the local press - the Sunderland Echo and the Evening Chronicle - the Black Cats supremo identified the £2m fee paid by the Berkshire club as an example of the new approach to transfer dealings at the Stadium of Light.
Attempting to pacify fan angst at the summer player trading which has left Simon Grayson’s side hovering just above the relegation places to League One, Martin Bain identified the sale of Mannone as one example of the belt-tightening underway in quotes published in the Echo:
Vito is obviously a very good goalkeeper. He had a year left on his contract which was going to run down, and Sunderland would have got nothing for him.
And Bain goes to on to christen this thrift with an odd turn of phrase more often associated with manufacturing ‘things’ than the recruitment and sale of professional footballers:
The right thing was, and this is regardless of the other circumstances, to ensure that the club protected its investment and got some money for Vito. That’s what I mean about efficiency.
‘Efficiency’ then appears to be the new model at Sunderland - a club now paying the price slumped in English football’s second-tier for poor transfer dealings throughout the previous ten year stint in the Premier League.
But, is this not now a club who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing, as raking in a couple of million quid for one of the better goalkeepers in the Championship is hailed by the CEO as something of a triumph?
Mannone spent four years at Sunderland and will forever be recalled for his exploits in the 2014 League Cup run and was crowned Player of the Year for his heroics that season. One of the senior players who took time out to get involved with Bradley Lowery’s cause, the Italian was one of the more popular figures at the club.
Clearly bidding the Sunderland faithful a farewell at the final home game of last season, Mannone signed for Reading a little over a year after penning a new 24-month deal at the Stadium of Light.
Mannone’s summer exit followed the £30m sale of Jordan Pickford to Everton, and the pair were replaced at the Stadium of Light by free-agent Robbin Ruiter and Jason Steele - a £500,000 addition from Blackburn.
Neither of Sunderland’s new ‘keepers have particularly impressed as the Black Cats have won only one game so far this season and conceded more goals than just three other teams in the Championship.
For his part, Mannone has made a decent start to life at the Madejski Stadium making seven appearances for his new club and conceding 7 goals.
The 29-year-old made five key saves as Reading escaped from Brentford with a point last week and he has generally been comfortable in games, though Royals fans have already noted the potential for mistake which occasionally blighted Mannone’s final days at Sunderland.
But it is the hint of the Black Cats direction given by CEO Bain which merits attention. The £2m sale to a Championship rival of an individual who would have been a key player for Sunderland this season - for reasons of ‘efficiency’ - is an odd turn of phrase don’t you think? But is he right to hail it?