Q: How do you view the business done by Sunderland (both ins and outs) during the summer window?
Sean Brown says...
Overall the squad looks to have been strengthened at minimal cost, and some acquisitions in particular look like fantastic deals at this point in the rebuild. What we’re left with as we move forward is a more compact squad with enough strength in depth to compete at this level.
We didn’t replace certain players we may have wanted to and we still look to lack pace, which is worrying. The big names that seem to be expected didn’t turn up, but is that surprising everyone in a realistic sense? I’d say we weren’t in a position to make certain deals on the basis that the players you may want to bring in to carry you through not one, but two campaigns - League one and the Championship if the target is achieved - are going to expect higher wages, guarantees they can’t necessarily be given at this point, and for every player in, another needs to go.
It’s a bit more complicated now than simply throwing money at people who otherwise would have no interest in dropping through divisions to join us. We’ve seen the results of our attempt to attract those types of players when we were in the top flight, and if they don’t perform despite their extortionate, almost compensatory contracts (built around the fact that our club isn’t the most fashionable) we’ve seen the cost. We’re living it now as we were last season. We need to be smart and we have been to a point.
That being said, the team responsible for recruitment needs work, as we need to be able to spot and secure the kind of young talents that will turn our squad from strong to exciting, and make the business far more profitable and sustainable.
Increasing our investment gradually and sensibly. Intelligently reinvesting any profits we can make from using the enviable facilities at our disposal to develop talent and sell it on while retaining the very best of that talent for ourselves.
If done right we may just achieve the club’s true potential.
Jack Ford says...
While I think its far from a disaster, I’m quite underwhelmed by our summer business and think we will likely end up looking for the same things in January as we did last season.
The signings of Willis and Dobson are exactly what we should be doing, bringing in young players with potential who will improve the first XI and grow with the club. However, apart from these signings I struggle to see where we’ve tangibly improved the first team.
We still are clearly lacking in pace and physical presence, as the easy counter attack goals we conceded at Peterborough highlighted, and once again we’ve completely failed in this regard aside from adding Willis’ speed and aerial ability.
Letting Reece James go only to replace him with the unknown element of Laurens De Bock also makes me further question Ross’s ability to judge transfers, especially when Denver Hume has shown he clearly isn’t ready for a regular first team place.
I was glad we got rid of the big earners that weren’t justifying their Premier League wages, but we seem to have failed to add anyone with that “X Factor” to really get the fans excited. I think we’ve definitely got enough quality within the squad to go up automatically, but should we get into the play-offs I’d worry again.
In Tony Coton and Jack Ross I think we have a combination of personalities that are rather too cautious and conservative in their approach to recruitment, and without an injection of forward-thinking scouting expertise and reintroducing the data analytics department I simply cannot see this improving in the near future.
Craig Davies says...
This is a trying question. Our transfer philosophy has stumped me again this summer - it’s a schizophrenic transfer policy which is foggy at best, and chaotic at worst.
We sign George Dobson and the mind believes we’ve adopted a system of investing in young players with potential so we can sell them for a profit a few years later and continue the cycle again with fresh talent coming through. Then we sign Connor McLaughlin - a journeyman with no club, available for free and we’re back to a system of just plugging gaps with available bodies.
We’ve been desperate for a left back all summer but release a competent left back to a direct League One rival. We’ve been in need of a big, muscular centre half of Herculean proportions and are playing Ozturk, who is very likable but didn’t set the world on fire last term as our season petered out into a damp squib.
We needed pace, which we haven’t addressed once again, when it was obvious the entirety of last season that an injection of rapid feet and powerful running were an absolute must.
Certainly - we’ve brought bodies in, but largely seem to be relying on the same players and system that got us to the lofty position of fifth only a couple of months ago.
Our policy seems to lack order or cohesion and relies more on ‘he’s available’ than it does on ‘what can he bring that’s an improvement on what we’ve got?’ So invariably, new recruits become blended-in nobodies who do a half decent job here and there, rather than forceful certainties that can cement their own places and drive the team forward.
Willis has shown potential, as has Dobson. Both could prove to be very shrewd signings and I believe they will, so it’s not all doom and gloom by any means.
Other than those one or two obvious cases of solid potential we are seemingly trying to wedge a fifth placed square-peg into a title winning round-hole, more relying on other teams being worse this time round, than us being particularly better.
James Nickels says...
Honestly, I’m not so sure. I think we’ve done well to trim a large squad with inflated wages - yet I cannot help but think we are glaringly weaker in some areas. Willis, McNulty and Dobson seem to be shrewd signings, yet so many others have flattered to deceive. We’re well stacked in central areas but so light out wide, especially at full back.
Essentially, while we have seen a shift in transfer policy - signing young and upwardly mobile players with both a long-term future and sell-on value as opposed to old, injury prone has-beens - it all just seems so scatter-gun.
I have to question if there is an efficient plan in place, and how effective this has been? As a result, the squad is somewhat imbalanced in terms of depth and is still severely lacking in pace. Jack Ross has identified this as a major issue for over a year now, so how has Tony Coton and Richard Hill not remedied this?
How does this triumvirate work? After two years of Tony Coton I am very much unimpressed. He doesn’t seem to have the prerequisite knowledge and long-term aforethought to put together a coherent plan of action for the transfer market.
In terms of individual quality, we have improved. But the squad is poorly balanced and still unequipped to suit the robust nature of League One football.
TL;DR: I think we have had a decent window, but not great due to the imbalances and seeming lack of coherency in planning. Regardless, the quality is still there to go up automatically.