Q: Is signing a left back before Saturday’s game a priority, or do you think we can make do?
Michael Graham says...
I’ve been supporting Sunderland for 32 years now and it feels like 30 of them have been spent looking for left backs. The more things change the more they seem to stay the same!
In my opinion, there is no way Sunderland can ‘make do’ without another left back. I like Denver Hume and root for him. I’m sure he’ll develop and I’m not ready to write him off, but I don’t think we can rely on him alone. His injury record alone tells us that.
But, more to the point, Sunderland shouldn’t have to make do without a left back. We are told we have by far the biggest budget in the league, so the idea of that translating into a squad with any glaring holes at all is ludicrous.
No one is expecting Paolo Maldini but those in charge of recruitment must be able to find a left back appropriate to our current level who can slot into a good side.
I guess Connor McLaughlin has done okay but we are asking him to cross with his weaker foot, to tackle with his weaker foot, to ignore his natural instinct to turn his back on the line and make the pitch smaller against teams who are already probably deliberately compact against us.
The most important point though is that McGeady needs someone to help him. The more space a player can create for him offensively or more freedom they can give him defensively, the better he, and therefore Sunderland will be.
Given McGeady is our best player, left back becomes a more important position than usual as it directly influences what McGeady can produce. It needs sorting, and it needs sorting well.
Phil Butler says...
In short, no. Whilst Denver Hume’s poor start was concerning given Jack Ross’s statement that he would be the side’s first choice left back, that does not mean we should be rushed into signing some competition for him that is actually not much better than the academy graduate.
Personally, I would start Hume again on Saturday given the fact that Conor McLaughlin looks no better at left back than he did at right-centre half.
In fact, getting Hume a game before making a new signing could actually give the young man a boost, and if he can have a good game it relieves a bit of the urgency in signing someone who can go straight into the side.
Of course this doesn’t mean we don’t need to sign someone to play at left back, but we also shouldn’t make the same mistakes we have done in the past, and rush into signing a substandard full back just so they can play against Wimbledon on Saturday.
Damian Brown says...
It would be naive for anyone at the club to conclude that we have no more business left to do, and the rumour is that we’ve still got some irons in the fire so I think we can safely assume that naivete doesn’t extend to Stewart Donald or the coaching staff.
Do we need that reinforcement before Saturday? No, not in the strictest sense. There is a greater risk of loss without those vital cogs being put in place to prevent it, but the team now benefits from a run of success and the confidence and match fitness it brings.
The ideal scenario would be that the recruits we need hit the ground running and contribute directly to our momentum but even if we were to bring them in before the match there are no guarantees as to their adaptability or fitness before the whistle blows on Saturday.
So the question really is “can we make do?” and I believe the answer is yes. We can make do because we have no choice. This delicate thing that is a relatively confident Sunderland team must be handled with great care and no small amount of diligence to ensure it maintains it’s form.
Think of it like a piece of clay being formed into pottery; it needs a gentle but firm hand. One slip and the whole thing can just fold in on itself, but if you keep turning the wheel thingy with the pedal and you add water to it or something it can turn out to look pretty awesome. Presumably.
My point is that change has to come slowly in order for it to bear fruit in a positive fashion and Ross should (and likely will) be careful with any tinkering he does for the weekend.
Phil West says...
I don’t think we should get lured into the trap of making a hasty signing at left-back, even ahead of Saturday’s game. Let’s try and ensure that we get the RIGHT player, and not a player who just happens to be available.
Making a speedy signing and then parachuting him straight into the team could be risky and might lead to a sloppy defensive performance. I do believe that, for one more game at least, we can cope. OK, it’s not ideal, but it’s far better to sign the right option than the easily-available option.
However, before the window slams shut, we definitely need to recruit in this area. Conor McLaughlin has struggled badly since his arrival, but that’s to be expected as a result of being played out of position. Our central defensive partnership, for me, is becoming settled with Ozturk and Willis, and if we can move McLaughlin to his natural position and bring in a high-calibre replacement for him at left-back there is a great chance that things will begin to look more solid, if given time.
In terms of the profile of left-back we should be targeting, I’d love us to bring in a defender with some genuine pace, an eye for a pass and a no-nonsense ‘you are not coming past me’ kind of attitude. In Ozturk and Willis, you can see the makings of a good, solid partnership, and if that can be complimented by some genuine quality at full-back, Jack Ross’s ambition of keeping a greater number of clean sheets may well stand a chance of coming to fruition.