We’re heading for another huge, potentially historic week for our football club.
This time next week we will know which division the club’s immediate future will lie for the forthcoming season. Rumours regarding future investment has thrown up a few possibilities regarding who may influence transfer policy, with the suggestion of a Director of Football being placed at the helm. Every fan will have an opinion on that idea, with the club’s last Director of Football experiment proving a failure.
For now, I won’t debate that role, but all Sunderland fans know and would agree what the team are currently missing.
Despite the recent reshuffle, our defence needs serious work. Throughout the spine of the team we must add physicality and pace is needed across the pitch. These are fundamentals that have been an issue for longer than just one season. Then there is the final third, clearly there is a lack of creativity and goals. No matter which division Sunderland find themselves in next year these areas must be addressed but the recruitment must remain the same.
Now is the time for Sunderland to set foundations for the years to come.
If Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven remain in charge, or if the club sees a multi-million pound takeover with subsequent investment, the club needs continuity above everything.
Since the time of Roy Keane, every summer transfer window has brought new reason for a serious overhaul of incomings and outgoings. Each summer has seen between 10 – 15 players added per season. Coupled with the number of managers through the Stadium of Light’s revolving doors during this same period it’s easy to see why continuity has been lacking.
Sunderland need to create a side to take them forward for years to come, not just bring in players for the now.
Jack Ross’ policy to recruit youth has been the focus, and so it should remain. But show ambition and inject into the side players with the genuine potential and capabilities of playing in the Championship, if promotion is won next Sunday or not.
If we look at the sides that have gone from League One into the Premier League in recent times, there have been one or two players present throughout the rise of those clubs. Sides such as Brighton, Leicester and Southampton have all had players ever-present who have embodied their clubs.
In the modern game, too often clubs tend to throw cash at a problem.
Cash alone certainly doesn’t guarantee the kind foundation or continuity that Sunderland need to build. In the week that Vincent Kompany announced his exit from Manchester City, it seems pertinent to make my point.
The Sky Blues are where Sunderland can only dream of being, but in football things can turn on their head. Indeed, the commentary against Charlton in the 1998 Play-off Final, as we scored our fourth, suggested Summerbee had ‘swapped Man City, heading for Division Two, for Sunderland potentially heading for the Premier League’ – history, initially proved otherwise.
In Kompany, City had a player who only cost £6 million before the big money takeover but has been suggested probably proved ‘the best signing the club made’.
The biggest, most invaluable signings are not always made when a club is where it wants to be, like with Messrs Kevin Phillips and Thomas Sorensen great examples.
We know Sunderland must eek out the bargains - players with the desire, character and the ability to do well for the club to take us back where we belong. If Sunderland can show the right ambition, the right players will be prepared to sign and help set the right standards the club needs for success.