Q: There are rumours that Sunderland’s ownership situation will put our recruitment on hold until things are resolved. With other clubs already doing impressive business, does this worry you that we could fall behind/miss out on good players or not?
Naturally I do, yes. Whilst I’m confident in the fact the club have planned this ‘takeover’ diligently, the news that a new Head of Recruitment/Director of Football could step in does set alarm bells ringing about how we actually recruit this summer.
Will the work already put in by Tony Coton and his small team of scouts be dismissed, or will we see their groundwork actioned with a view to John Park starting on our January recruitment plans once his feet are under the table?
It certainly does pose more questions than it does give us answers, particularly since the talk of Park coming in is, at this stage, nothing more than pure speculation.
Peterborough breaking their transfer record to sign Mo Eisa and Ipswich signing James Norwood and Tomas Holy at such an early stage is a statement that they’ll mean business next season. I have no doubt that a number of clubs will be looking to gain an advantage in the transfer window as they bid to get out of this division, and I actually think League One will be an even tougher division in 2019/20 with a greater breadth of decent clubs competing at the top end.
Sunderland can’t afford to fall behind but I suppose it depends on how much money we have to spend, as ultimately that will boost our ability to get one up on the other top sides as the window progresses. For as good as Norwood, Eisa and Holy are, you can get better players from teams in the league above if you’re willing to part with a decent chunk of cash.
I guess I just don’t really like uncertainty, nor do I feel comfortable with short-termism when it comes to recruitment. For once I’d just like to see Sunderland have a summer transfer window where you can see clearly what our plans are, with much of the groundwork that goes into convincing players to come here already done months in advance so that we can have an advantage over our competitors.
We’ve yet to release our retained list, which indicates that we’re a little behind in terms of formulating our plans for the forthcoming season. Here’s hoping it doesn’t set us back.
Jack Ford says...
I’ve had a look through our past few seasons and, if I’m correct, the last time we had an undisturbed summer transfer window was 2015.
One thing that even our new owners can’t seem to fix is the club’s insistence on giving itself a four week transfer window.
It really does worry me, because when you combine our apparent strategy of dragging out negotiations for as long as possible to save money, and our lack of strong scouting networks, every key player signed by a promotion rival is one we lose out on.
For once I’d love us to be proactive and aggressive in the market, and give Jack Ross the best chance possible to bed in what should be a fair few new recruits in pre season so we have the strongest possible start to the season.
As it is, I think we need about five or six new first XI players without even considering the possibility of losing starters to other clubs, and that isn’t something you can do in a few weeks and succeed with - last season proved that.
The papers are linking us with Lawrence Shankland on a free, and that’s a good start, but if ownership negotiations and then protracted bargaining over contracts to save us a few quid potentially delay or cost us the deal I’m afraid we’re left with nothing.
Tom Atkinson says...
It’s fair to say that a summer displaying a clear, efficient recruitment strategy would be a huge indication that the club is heading in the right direction. Furthermore, it would help to allay many people’s fears or qualms about whether Ross has the squad to secure promotion this coming campaign.
At the moment, though, it feels like another pre-season of change - both on and off the pitch - is lingering on the horizon. Whether that’s a positive change for the club is one that remains to be seen.
What can be noted, however, is that Sunderland are at an immediate disadvantage until the ownership situation is fully finalised.
First of all, the ownership likely won’t sanction deals until potential investment is confirmed and the new party have a seat on the board.
Secondly, questions will likely be asked as to whether Tony Cotton remains at the club. Reports from north of the border suggest John Park is the new group’s preferred appointment as the club director of football - but whether that is true or not is another question that looms over the club and its future. Would Park’s arrival signal an entire shift in scouting and recruitment, for example? Would the past year’s worth of work remain relevant, or would it be consigned to the scrap heap?
Ultimately, it feels like Sunderland current sit in no-man’s land as we wait for an announcement on ownership. Effective management and transfer policy will likely be needed in order to ensure Ross has the squad capable of providing promotion.