Trialist in talks
Sunderland took Wouter Verstraaten on trial recently, with the Dutchman turning out for the development squad in a game against Liverpool.
The South Shields defender has impressed this season for the non-league side and that form caught the eye of Sunderland who brought him to the club on trial as they look to strengthen the squad ahead of next season.
Despite the Merseysiders running out 6-0 winners, Verstraaten has impressed enough for Sunderland to offer the player a contract, with the player discussing terms with the club according to ED.nl.
The 23-year-old gave an interview to Dutch publication Eindhoven Dagblad [ED] in which he discussed his experience at the Academy of Light and revealed that it was special to be going from playing non-league football in his homeland for VV Geldrop not so long ago to turning out for Sunderland:
They had seen me play and showed interest. Special, yes. Half a year ago I played football at Geldrop and now I was allowed to test at Sunderland.
I am realistic, but during that test internship I noticed that I was competing at that level.
His trial at Sunderland was a popular talking point amongst his friends due to Will Grigg also being at the club, a player who had played against the Netherlands national team:
My friends liked that. He immediately asked how I was, also because he had played against the Dutch national team. It was a pleasure to step in there.
Verstraaten originally moved to England to study at Durham University and now hopes to play football professionally, as well as graduating:
I’m going to graduate anyway and I’m like: why wouldn’t I play professional football for a few years? Then we will see where it ends.
Ainsworth explains Wycombe decision
Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth was a frontrunner for the Sunderland job after the departure of Jack Ross, with reports suggesting that the club had gone as far as making a formal approach for his services and Ainsworth himself having an interview.
No offer was forthcoming however and Phil Parkinson was the man chosen to lead the team but speaking to the Football League Paper, Ainsworth says that the offers he received - from Sunderland and Millwall - were not right for himself or his family:
Sometimes, you have to look around and realise what you’ve got, it’s very tempting to move on, to change clubs a lot. But it has to be right. And the offers that were well documented earlier this season weren’t right, for me or my family.
When asked whether the temptation to improve his wages was a factor, the 46-year-old said there are more important things in life than money:
Not as tempting as you’d think, it’s about asking yourself what’s important in life, and I think I’m quite a grounded guy. What matters is my family. My happiness.
I evaluate my situation and I’m doing a job I love. I’m not under a lot of pressure. I’m in control of things. Stress levels are low.
Some people might go for the big bucks, but even a spectacular, life-changing thing would be a tough call for me. Because there are a lot more important things in life than football and money.
The article also goes on to claim that Will Grigg earns nearly as much per year as the entire Wycombe Wanderers squad put together.
Sunderland under-23 forward Jack Diamond is shining at Harrogate Town, racking up the man of the match awards for the National League high-flyers.
He had a slow start at the club but Harrogate manager Simon Weaver told the Harrogate Advertiser that he knew Diamond would come good eventually, with the player just needing time to acclimatise to his first team surroundings.
We knew he was good enough, we saw the potential with what Jack was doing in training on a regular basis, so we challenged him to start delivering in games.
We challenged him to show everyone what he can do, because matches are where you are judged.
If we are being brutally honest, the end product wasn’t good enough, but now Jack is red-hot and he’s doing it.
It’s always satisfying to see a young player coming through and realising their potential, but it’s the player that deserves all the credit.
His attitude since he came here has been spot on. He’s really bought into this loan.
He’s a really good lad, he’s not arrogant or big-time at all. He might be a Sunderland player, but he didn’t come with an attitude of ‘oh I’m only here for a short period of time, so it doesn’t really matter’.
He’s fully committed himself to trying to play his part in achieving something special this season and I think you can say he is reaping his rewards now.
He is benefitting from playing regular games of first-team football and I think there are so many other young lads who are missing out because they don’t get this opportunity.
These players need more than just academy football. They need chances like Jack has had to test them as people, to show how they react to things like getting dropped or a crowd getting on their backs.
Credit to Sunderland for letting Jack come here, and credit to him for how he’s done.
He is now choosing better times to take risks, we want him to take those risks in the opposition half. I think he’s learned when and where to try and get at the opposition.
He’s such a threat when he is on the ball, he’s able to grab hold of the game and go and do real damage.
He’s a very exciting player to watch, it’s great to see him in such brilliant form and helping the team.
Bali Mumba has also been impressing in the short time he has been on loan at South Shields. After making an impressive cameo at the weekend, the England youth international made his full debut for the club against Nantwich Town in midweek and scored the winner.
You can watch the highlights of his performance below (with his goal at the 5:25 mark) and hear from the player himself below, where he reveals how he is buzzing after immediately making his mark: