Looking at the players released this summer - did the club get it right?
Phil West says...
Generally, I’m happy with how the cards have fallen regarding players who’ve been retained and those who will be moving on to pastures new. Financial necessity was always likely to play a role in who stayed and who left, and of course, the waters are still muddy so I don’t think there’ll be a sudden burst of rampant excitement even in the wake of the list being released.
In terms of who we’ve kept, I believe that the three most important players are Jordan Willis, Chris Maguire, and Lynden Gooch. It is a positive that Josh Scowen will be remaining, because he can offer excellent cover in key positions, but in my opinion, keeping the three players above was absolutely crucial.
Jordan Willis is a defender of good ability and is an influential and generally calming presence at the back. Assuming we can find him a reliable and rugged partner in the centre of defence, he will hopefully continue to thrive as a first-choice next season.
Chris Maguire, who has committed for another season, is arguably our most influential player in an attacking sense. If he can weed out the inconsistencies in his game, particularly away from home, I am absolutely certain that he will make it a personal mission to get Sunderland promoted when the new season begins.
As for Lynden Gooch, assuming that we can fend off any potential bids from rival clubs for the American, he’ll be one of the ‘go-to’ players for us when the new season begins. He was much more consistent and influential during 2019/2020, and was playing with a lot of confidence and potency - that was so crucial during our upturn over the new year.
Hopefully the core of our squad for 2020/2021 is beginning to take shape. The hard task will be to augment the player we already have with the quality needed to challenge from the first game. This is a small, but promising first step.
Jack Howe-gingell says...
The big thing with the retained list for me is how dangerously light we look. Jon McLaughlin has left so there’s one down, and Aiden McGeady will likely go as well leaving us with only 12 senior players. You can of course, add Denver Hume and Elliot Embleton into the mix but we need to bring some quality into the side.
I think it’s sensible hanging on to Chris Maguire and hopefully Tom Flanagan. The former has class and can be a real handful when properly managed, with the latter being versatile and has shown he can be a decent defender, though needs to show more consistency.
If we could add Bailey Wright on a free, the defence would look a lot better, though it is glaringly sparse for in both full back positions.
Extensions for Luke O’Nein and Josh Scowen will be handy, as well. Scowen has yet to have a proper run, but Barnsley supporters were disappointed they didn’t go back for him and have plenty of positive things to say about him. O’Nein represents one of our rare players who might actually attract a fee from another club, though I hope we keep him.
Overall, seems to me that there is a lot of gaps to fill. It would be nice for once to get quality in to fill those blanks, otherwise we are in for a very difficult season.
Malcolm Dugdale says...
The news that Chris “the King” Maguire is staying was very welcome, but that being surrounded by so many releases, including Jon McLaughlin moving to Rangers, does mean we have a lot of work to do to be ready for next season.
Though retained, I doubt we will see anything of Aiden McGeady again. A number of other retentions also seem to be more driven by the fact we cannot afford to kill contracts for underperforming players, such as Conor McLaughlin and Will Grigg, or for players like Grant Leadbitter who is surely better off retiring and moving into coaching, maybe with us as his boyhood club? Retaining because we see real promise for next time around does not feel like the majority motive, but maybe I’m being pessimistic.
As will be the case for many, I’m chuffed we still have Luke O’Nein, Max Power, and Jordan Willis, as well as Josh Scowen - who needs to show why we took him on. If Lynden Gooch can put a majority of good performances in next season he could turn the heads of managers in the Championship, but like many others he needs to find consistency in his game.
Regarding those released: I was surprised both Alim Ozturk and Joel Lynch were culled, but I hope that is due to the return of Bailey Wright about to be confirmed. If not, and assuming Flanagan does not sign up, the back line will be more or less starting again, which may not be a bad idea.
A lot of youth has gone too, but my view is that maybe we need to reap some investment in places, and promote the retained academy lads. This is League One, where we used to send similar youngsters to blood their noses against men. Why not do that now? Especially if finances are a factor?
You never know till you have a go and we certainly need to do that next season.
Reece Davies says...
Looking at the retained list, there’s no doubt at League One level there is proven quality within that squad. This is a solid foundation to work to set our house on.
The extension for Chris Maguire was very important for Sunderland given he can make us tick, it just needs to be as consistent as possible. His signature, in addition to retaining players such as Jordan Willis, Luke O’Nien, Max Power and Lynden Gooch provides something for us fans to raise a faint smile at.
No doubt there may be some players from this squad that may leave, as Jon McLaughlin has, but the overall nucleus is strong. I feel Lee Burge is more than capable of being just as effective as McLaughlin between the posts and now he is effectively number 1, he needs to step up.
There remains question marks for the impact some may have and how Parky can motivate them to pull in the same direction for the benefit of them as individuals, the team and ultimately, the club.
Players like Aiden McGeady, Conor McGlaughlin (both of whom I feel may still leave Sunderland), Josh Scowen and Will Grigg need to be managed to help them find the spark they need to help Sunderland progress.
I’m relatively happy with Tom Flanagan still being around the squad - unless he leaves - as he will provide a suitable partner in the immediacy for Jordan Willis. However, I do think that we’re screaming out for a ’bully’ in the heart of that defence.
The distinct lack of pace in this team is there for all to see and we have to address this if we want the chance of being ready for the start of the season and capable of fighting for promotion. With the potential wage cap, have Sunderland got the capital to snap up pace and quality to help us get out of this league, though?
Time will tell, but we need a plan, a structured plan to identify players we need to plug gaps and improve the side. Not forgetting the fact that we need a goalscoring striker. An injury to the likes of Gooch and Maguire for any length of time, means this team in goal shy.
Obviously we have Denver Hume, George Dobson, and Elliot Embleton to come in to the reckoning, but I would also like to see Kimpioka sign his deal and have a run in this side or at very least, minutes off the bench. I feel once in there, he could offer the flair and directness we’ve lacked at times this season.
As always, there’s a job to do at Sunderland and forever hopeful we can just get this right... for once.