Once the dust settled on last season and the guesses as to which players would remain on Wearside began, I was sure that Jason Steele would be on the list - with him remaining at Sunderland, we perhaps wouldn’t have delved into the transfer market for a stopper.
Fast forward to now and the fortunes of Sunderland stoppers old and new look to be very different. In the space of just a couple of weeks, our goalkeeping options have been given a much more positive coat of paint.
The signing of Scottish international goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin is a fantastic coup for us. He’s played right across the English footballing pyramid, attaining ninety appearances for League One sides Bradford City and Burton Albion - showing that he’s more than good enough and safe enough to play at this level.
With over three hundred career appearances in total, McLaughlin is sure to be a steady pair of hands and will no doubt be more competent than both Jason Steele and Lee Camp - possibly combined.
Jack Ross sang McLaughlin’s praises, and with good reason - at thirty years of age the former Hearts keeper is relatively young for his position, and as we haven’t had to pay a penny for him it’s a smart deal.
The departure of Steele came as a bit of a surprise due to his contractual commitments, but what was even more amazing was the fact that he’s landed a move to the Premier League.
His agent must have some incredible powers of persuasion - or perhaps representatives of Brighton have not watched highlights of Steele’s season. Whichever way you look at it, the fact he’s ended up in the Premier League is unbelievable. If he played for us in any other season he’d have been by far our worst keeper scaling two divisions; but of course Lee Camp beat him to that prestigious title.
That brings me to Lee. If it isn’t bad enough that Steele made his way to the Premier League, it seems the on-loan Cardiff man will also be a top division stopper next year. I just hope, for Cardiff’s sake, they don’t end up in a position where he actually needs to be made a viable option.
It shouldn’t be - it should be hilarious - but its infuriating to think that two of the worst keepers in our history have ended up in the Premier League next season after they played a big part in getting us relegated.
Fortunately, it’s also therapeutic to know that neither will be anywhere near our starting line-up ever again - a sickeningly positive outcome for two poor goalkeepers.
One keeper who will most likely be staying around next season is Robbin Ruiter. The Dutchman had a poor start to life on Wearside, but was starting to put in some good performances before a hand injury in February ruled him out for the rest of the campaign.
This left us with the opportunity to see which of Camp or Steele could be worse, a race they both seemed intent on winning at times. Ruiter could make for a solid back up and it will be nice next season to have a competent number two, especially considering we didn’t even have a competent number one last year.
Lee Camp wasn’t going to remain at Sunderland, that was a truth self-evident before the bloke was even five games in to his loan spell. With Steele following him out the door soon after, it looks as though our goalkeeping line-up will be sorted for next season.
McLaughlin will start the campaign as number one with Ruiter as a handy back up - and I don’t think anyone would find any controversy in that setup.
The last two seasons have seen a major overhaul in our squad, and our goalkeeping department has been no exception. Before the 2017-18 season we’d had a proud record of owning decent goalkeepers; with the signing of Jon McLaughlin it looks as though we’ve taken a welcome step back in the right direction.