Q: Both Jon McLaughlin and Aiden McGeady have been linked with moves away from the club. Can Sunderland afford to let them go? How much of an impact would them staying/leaving have on our plans for the upcoming season?
Michael Graham says...
Lee Cattermole has gone. Our top scorer was allowed to leave mid-way through last season. There are talented youngsters leaving left, right, and centre. That’s all been accepted because, for one reason or another, the club’s hands were forced.
McLaughlin and McGeady are under contract, though, past 30, on affordable wages, and our best two players from last season. The damage that it would do to supporter faith in the club’s ambitions would do far more harm to trust and connect from the stands than any fee or financial ease possibly could, and that’s before you even get to the football side of it.
Last season’s promises and calls for patience are only valid if the owners build on what we had. Dismantling it would send a massively dangerous message to supporters who are being asked to, most often blindly, believe in something positive.
Tom Atkinson says...
Potentially selling both of Sunderland’s best players from last season is a tightrope that needs to be navigated with care and consideration. It could be a cunning move or a complete disaster.
The first thing to consider is the fact that the immediate fallout from these sales would be apocalyptic. Fans are already twitchy this summer after a disappointing culmination to last season combined with a sluggish start to our summer business. Moving on two stars from last season would be an incredibly bold move by the club, and the ownership would have to face an immense amount of immediate backlash - possibly even more brutal than that of recent weeks.
That being said, I suppose the ‘success’ of any potential sale depends on two things. Was the deal a good one for the club financially? And, did you bring in a player if equal or greater talent - ideally at a lesser fee?
Currently, it feels like Lee Burge is not a good enough replacement for Jon McLaughlin and we haven’t signed any attacking players thus far. So as of right now, selling both would be a massive risk. However, if the club were to gain the touted £5million for McLaughlin and the £2.5million for McGeady, then that’s a significant sum of money for a club in the third tier of English football and shouldn’t be sniffed at - especially if the vast majority is reinvested into the side.
Ultimately, though the ‘success’ of these potential sales - if you can call it that - depends on who the club would bring in to replace two fantastic players.
Replacing McLaughlin would not be as difficult as replacing McGeady, but then again there’s a claim to be made about the team performing better as an overall unit using a lopsided 5-3-2 without McGeady’s presence.
So, it’s a difficult one that boils down to whether our misfiring recruitment team is confident of being able to replace two valuable players with signings that bring just as much to the side, if not more. Their current track record suggests that’s not the case, but they’ve had a year to prepare for this moment.
Chris Camm says...
Yes you can, but only under the right circumstances.
Jon McLaughlin was signed for a very specific reason and that was to be the number one - a reliable presence between the sticks and somebody who can win you games through his goalkeeping ability.
McLaughlin delivered that in emphatic style last season. Based on that description alone there is surely no way you can let him go unless you sign somebody else who fits that same bill immediately. But why would you risk it? We already have that player.
Letting him go would only serve to further frustrate the fans and add further pressure on the recruitment team to deliver.
For McGeady to leave you will be benefiting from a transfer fee and one of the bigger wage packets leaving the books but that’s to be expected when you sell your best player.
If he departs then you’re left with two options. First is the obvious one, sign another star player as a direct replacement. If you get that right then you energise the fanbase and restore a lot of the faith that will have been lost through McGeady’s departure. Marcus Maddison is the only player I can think of right now that would have that effect.
The alternative is to let him go and offer the first team minutes to somebody else, namely Elliot Embleton. While I would love to see Embleton play a major role this season I don’t want it to be as a direct replacement for one of the dressing room leaders. That’s a huge responsibility and expectation to put on young shoulders and while I’d still remain confident that he could pull it off I just think its much more sensible to give him that opportunity without the pressure.
I think there are certain members of the squad from last season that dont deserve an automatic place in the team anymore and Embleton will be right there to take their place, but McGeady isn’t one of them.
Ultimately you can sell these players but the pressure you’ll put on yourself to get the right replacements in will make this an even trickier pre-season for Stewart Donald and co.
Phil West says...
Letting them go would be a gamble, and would put enormous pressure on the recruitment team to bring in a suitable replacement for McGeady, and would also put Lee Burge under enormous pressure to fill Mclaughlin’s shoes.
McGeady offers a creative spark that we sorely need, and McLaughlin is a calming presence in goal. Only ‘silly money’ offers would make their departures even remotely worthwhile.