Dear Roker Report,
I have just read Charlie Coldicott’s excellent summing up of the takeover options, and Gav’s l would think correct assumption of what the outcome will be.
There are a few things assuming everything goes through that still need to be addressed. I may have this wrong but with the FFP rules we would still be limited to paying 60 percent of income on wages, so the only way l can see round this is for the incoming owners to announce a huge sponsorship deal to allow on field growth.
They would then surely have the names of one of their companies emblazoned on shirts and around the stadium.
I am not even sure anymore how much they can actually be allowed to invest in clubs as football moves towards ever more fiscal control.
But let’s make some optimistic assumptions. Say they are allowed to spend a large chunk of money and buy the best available players in January - would it not make sense to have an experienced top class manager in charge of the process?
While l have nothing against Jack Ross it has to be said that of all the players he has signed not one of them can be described as a flair player, and only Jon McLaughlin showed any level of consistency for the whole of last season. Would it be wise to give a large chunk of money to Jack Ross and the current recruitment team?
If the owners do think change is needed the name that springs to mind is Big Sam. Could he be tempted away from his Barbados villa for one last project?
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Re: the amount of money they’d be able to spend - it’s more likely to assume that they’ll continue the club’s current policy of spending money sensibly. People need to get it out of their heads right away that these people are going to come in and chuck money at the budget for the playing squad - they won’t. For one, they probably can’t just yet. In January I’d guess we’re likely able to afford one or two quality players to aid our promotion charge, but that’d be pushing the boat out.
As you say, we’re ultimately bound to the financial restrictions which dictate the path we take. Charlie Methven has spoken about this before, in that we’ve shaped our current level of spending in line with the likelihood that if we don’t get promoted this season, we won’t face sanctions next year as the parachute payments stop. Sensible, in the sense that it’s preparing for both the best and worst outcomes. If we do go up, it gives us loads more room to spend on players and wages in the Championship.
The club getting promoted at the end of this season opens up many more doors that we can go through as I write this today. We’ll be in a far better position to spend, obviously, but it also allows us to make the most from our status and standing in the game. We’d be better placed to negotiate a better deal for selling the stadium rights, for instance, or a shirt sponsorship deal that would net us a decent sum of money.
Re: the manager, Jack Ross has bought himself some time having won five from the last six games but make no bones about it, he surely knows himself that the pressure for him to suceed is on. If this team is not competing for the top two spots then people will rightly question his position. Right now, he’s earned some breathing space (even after the Peterborough defeat) and I think that the 10-15 game stage is a better time to assess where we’re at. Like you, I’m not convinced by Ross as manager over the long term but ultimately I want nothing more for him to succeed.
Big Sam is an amusing suggestion as potential manager because as we’re talking about long term planning in one breath, we’re talking about a dinosaur of the game who has no intention of sticking around at a club for more than half a season in the other! I loved Sam during his time as our manager but let’s not kid ourselves - he was brought in (with a handsome wage and bonus, I might add) to keep us up, and whilst he did just that I’m not convinced he had any intention of sticking around, regardless of the England job coming up. As Sam’s recent history as a manager shows, the deal has to weigh heavily in his favour for him to consider taking a job, i.e. plenty of money to spend on players, working with agents he favours, and having full control over the club’s transfer activities.
Dear Roker Report,
Re: who I think should be Sunderland’s first choice central midfield pairing...
I’d go for O’Nien and Dobson, but we need the defence to supplement this pairing and the rest of the team to work together sometimes - there are too many individuals in our squad.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I wouldn’t be disappointed with your selections. I think many of our issues in midfield stem from the lack of mobility we have whenever Leadbitter plays, and both O’Nien and Dobson would provide us with not only energy but the ability to get about the park quickly, running beyond, a presence in the air and infectious workrate.
Sadly, I think the last year or so tells us that Jack Ross doesn’t think along the same lines as me - he sees O’Nien primarily as a right back, and has a preference for Leadbitter and Power in the two starting midfield berths. Ultimately I don’t care who plays if we’re winning games, but it’d be nice to see us give a chance to two young lads who can genuinely grow with the club over the long term.