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Sunderland owner pledges to invest £500k in scouting department - long term key to success?

With Sunderland owner Stewart Donald recently stating the club are to invest £500k in the scouting department, could the argument be made that investing in a long-term vision is the key to success?

Sunderland v Grimsby Town: Cup Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Last week I discussed Sunderland’s need for improved backroom structure, and in that article a man named Michael Zorc was mentioned.

He’s Borussia Dortmund’s Sporting Director, and the man credited with ensuring the German club continue to be a force to be reckoned with whilst maintaining their financial practicality amid a turnover of players and managers.

I’m a big fan of people like Zorc, the behind the scenes staff who contribute to the lasting success of a side. It’s a role I feel Sunderland need to invest in if we want to find enduring success.

That being said, in last week’s article, I was pretty harsh on Sunderland’s recruitment team - a thought that struck home when I stumbled upon the fact that Dortmund, whose approach is said to have inspired Donald and Methven, have over fifteen staff members working on scouting and recruitment.

Sunderland, on the other hand, have a fraction of that number with the likes of Tony Coton, Richard Hill, and the manager (whoever that may be), working on deals in and out of the club.

In all, there’s just a handful of people dealing with Sunderland’s incomings and outgoings - though ultimately, the manager makes the final call on all deals - with the likes of Coton and co. simply supporting the manager in his endeavours.

The team undoubtedly try their best, but they need support. And Sunderland need an identity, direction, and a plan.

Aerial view of the River Wear and Stadium of Light, home ground of Sunderland AFC. Photograph by David Goddard/Getty Images

As such, it’s clear to see that Sunderland’s approach to player incomings and outgoings doesn’t quite match up with the side who are said to inspire our approach - and that could well be the root cause of Sunderland’s issues.

Sunderland are operating with tight parameters, saving money by moving on big earners, and trying their best to bring in talent capable of moving the club forward in the right direction.

Has it worked perfectly? Arguably not. But, then again, Sunderland are operating on a limited budget.

Whereas Dortmund have generated income of close to £500 million through player sales, Sunderland are desperately trying to bring down expenditure as they try to take control of Salary Cost Management Protocol.

Sunderland are in a tricky position, but simultaneously there is a need for the club to try and grow itself from within, and one piece of positive news that emerged recently was when Stewart Donald noted that:

Not much was made of it, but in my last fans talk-in I said we were going to invest half a million pounds on new scouts - going into Scandinavia, Germany, Ireland and the UK.

The stuff behind the scenes I don’t think is the mess everyone is talking about.

Devising a long-term plan for recruitment and sales could well be exactly what’s needed in order to help revitalise a club that has fallen fast - much like Borussia Dortmund did back in the early 2000’s after they had spent beyond their means and paid the price.

Coventry City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

But while Donald is right in stating that investment is a positive, and that Sunderland are likely the biggest financial spenders in the league, it can be argued that the club needs to look beyond its current situation and ponder as to how it can reinvent itself.

Because that’s what Sunderland need right now. To be bold and revolutionary.

Yes, we need to find a way out of the league. But we also need to look ahead to the future. We need to install people who can aid those already working behind the scenes. People who can develop a long-term strategy that goes beyond managers and current playing staff.

Sunderland desperately need to devise a meaningful strategy that unites elements within the club. From playing style, to transfer targets, to player sales, and everything in between, Sunderland need to think about the big picture approach.

Looking beyond the current situation is something that could well be cathartic for our club. Creating a proactive culture that goes beyond manager of the moment is something that could well be a catalyst for lasting success.

Donald’s investment in the scouting department needs to be the tip of the iceberg as Sunderland try to get back on their feet.

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