After news emerged yesterday that Josh Maja had all but confirmed his exit from the club, fans felt an array of emotions. Some experienced anger and frustration questioning Maja’s gratitude and loyalty to a club that had placed its faith in his talent; others were comfortable with the fact that the club will likely receive a decent fee for a young striker who could leave for nothing in just a few months’ time.
Ultimately, Josh Maja’s time at Sunderland is essentially over, and whatever fans’ feelings might be on the matter, we need to now look ahead.
This bump in the road cannot be allowed to harm the progress we have made as a club; this cannot derail our season - we must move on.
Josh Maja could well have a great future ahead of him, and we should wish him all the best, but one player does not make a club - Sunderland will recover and success will return to Wearside, even in the absence of Josh Maja.
To clarify: @stewartdonald3 has told me Josh Maja has played his last game for #safc. They had hoped they could keep hold of him until the summer but the player took his belongings and said he was leaving. Negotiations are now being pursued with Bordeaux.— Nick Barnes (@Tweed_Barnesy) January 23, 2019
Will Grigg and Marc McNulty have been touted as possible replacements, and both would be solid acquisitions.
In League One Grigg managed to find the back of the net 44 times in 83 games - prolific form that fired Wigan to the Championship twice. Admittedly, Grigg has somewhat struggled to adapt to life in the Championship, but it could be argued that Wigan have failed to add the quality required in order to ensure Grigg’s form could be replicated in England’s second flight.
McNulty, too, has struggled in the Championship with Reading, but did have a prolific campaign last year with Coventry in League Two where he scored 25 and assisted 8 in 45 games. Could he also be a striker simply in need of better service? Reading, much like Wigan, find themselves fighting relegation in the Championship - is McNulty just at the wrong club at the wrong time?
Quality strikers are available, and I’m fairly confident that, despite time running out, Sunderland will find a forward capable of bagging the goals required to secure promotion.
➡️Sunderland being linked with Marc McNulty....— D3D4Football (@d3d4football) January 17, 2019
Last season he was excellent for Coventry as they secured promotion from League Two via the play-offs
Here are a selection of his goals that helped the #SkyBlues to that promotion.
#PUSB #SAFC @RokerReport pic.twitter.com/os4j8sIyiz
Furthermore, Maja’s proposed transfer will allegedly net the club £3.5 million - with around half of that supposedly arriving up-front in cash. Those funds that could well prove to be just the ticket required in order to add the extra quality needed to secure promotion.
Two forwards, a winger, and a creative midfielder are all targets Jack Ross will likely be keen on securing - Could Maja’s move give us the financial wiggle-room required to bring in quality additions? Would fans be content with Maja’s sale helping the club to take a step forward?
As much as this is a raw moment in the club’s new dawn, there is every chance we look back on this occasion with a shrug of the shoulders and an acceptance that, yes, losing Maja was disappointing, but at least it helped the club bring in the bodies needed to find success.
Sunderland now have one week to find the players that will benefit the club as a whole, because that’s what this saga demonstrated - that no one player can be viewed as more than the sum of our equal parts.
Sunderland are a club on the up: interest in our key players will become part and parcel of our future - sales will continue to happen. That is simply a fact; players will leave us in search of more money and more glory. Now is the time for our recruitment department to earn their living. Now is the time for our new ownership to adjust and overcome.
As fans we’ve got to look forward and keep the faith: onwards and upwards!