Which players would you make sure Sunderland hang onto this summer and label “not for sale” if we hope to have any success in the coming season?
Philip West says...
In terms of players we simply must not sell this summer, I believe there are five members of the squad whose presence is an absolute necessity if we are to mount a promotion bid next season. Phil Parkinson may be targeting seven or eight new players, but these signings must compliment, and provide competition, for the players I refer to below. They must not replace them.
Starting from the back, the services of Jordan Willis must be retained. He took a while to settle, but was looking ever more comfortable at the heart of our defence as the season went on, and his presence and influence was growing. Partner him with another dominant centre-back, and we will hopefully develop a very solid foundation. Also in the defensive department, I believe Luke O’Nien must stay. His attitude and his professionalism are exemplary and his versatility, being able to fill in as a full-back or an auxiliary midfielder, is a useful asset as well.
The third player we must keep is Max Power. As last season unfolded, he was growing into the role of captain with aplomb, and was relishing the task of driving the team forwards and bringing some real purpose and bite to our midfield.
Going forward, Lynden Gooch and Chris Maguire are two absolutely key players for us. Gooch was a key creative force during our post-December resurgence, and despite his inconsistency, Maguire was, in my opinion, our best player last season, with his goals and all-around play often being the difference in tight games. If we can recruit some pacey, dynamic forwards to augment what we already have in that department, our attack could certainly become a lot more potent, and given the inevitable fixture pile-ups we will encounter next season, the depth of our squad will be crucial.
We need to be able to rotate and change things up whenever it is needed, and these five players will be at the core of that.
Matthew Crichton says...
If Sunderland seek to improve on last season’s highly disappointing League One campaign, it is imperative that the club’s hierarchy do not sell our best players. Across the past two seasons Sunderland’s squad has weakened in terms of both quality and depth. Our failure to adequately replace players has been an integral reason as to why we have failed to achieve promotion.
The first player who Sunderland simply must retain is Jordan Willis. The club has received intense scrutiny regarding the quality of recruitment (and rightly so), but they do deserve credit for beating many Championship clubs to signing the ex-Coventry captain. Willis reads the game impressively, possesses brilliant strength and pace, and he has shown in Parky’s three-back system that he can adapt his game. Since the club released Joel Lynch, Jack Baldwin and Alim Ozturk and could lose Tom Flanagan, selling Willis would leave Sunderland with the task of signing 4-5 central defenders in a single transfer window. That would be completely disastrous.
The next player the club should not sell is Luke O’Nien, he epitomises what Sunderland fans love to see in a player and has proved he is quality at this level. The 25-year-old has proved his flexibility as a player through taking the right wing-back position by the scruff of the neck. He possesses a relentless work rate, he is creative, loves a tackle and wins more headers than the team’s supposed target-man, Charlie Wyke. Whether he is kept at right-back or moved back into midfield, O’Nien is one of Sunderland’s most consistent performers and is an example to his teammates through the desire he shows in every battle on the pitch.
Lastly, another fan-favourite who would be disastrous to sell is academy graduate Lynden Gooch. The American international was reborn in Phil Parkinson’s system, improving the end-product in his game as he scored 10 league goals. Gooch is one of few Sunderland players who possesses pace and the ability to beat players. As an inside-forward he has become far more dangerous, working well in a front three with Charlie Wyke and Chris Maguire. I believe Gooch is Sunderland’s most expensive asset right now and he will be a leading role in Sunderland’s team next season, I do not believe the club would be able to sign a player of his level if he was sold.
Jack Howe-gingell says...
I think this latest questions has sadly compounded my feelings on Sunderland at the moment: we are a League One club.
The players are a much of a muchness, for me, with very few standing out from the crowd. We are desperate for a few players of quality and there are not many I would be clinging on to, other than trying to avoid a paper-thin squad.
I’d say keeping Willis, O’Nein and Gooch would be my main priorities. They all represent the type of players we should have throughout the squad - young enough to get better and good enough to help us push on.
You could throw Hume and Embleton into that bracket, as well, though they are still developing. I’d say more of the high potential youth players as well, but we all know they’ll be sold off at the first sniff of 50p, so why waste the words?
Overall, our additions to the squad outweigh those who will still remain. We are desperate for hungry players, who can make an impact. It’s a sorry state, in truth - all we can do is pray for a Gus Poyet inspired miracle.
Philip Butler says...
In an ideal world a club who have spent as much money on transfers as Sunderland over the last two years shouldn’t be worried about losing any players whilst in League One. Every player at this level is replaceable, but only with a well funded and forward thinking scouting department. Something Sunderland don’t have.
With that in mind, I’d be concerned if Sunderland lost any of their usual starting eleven from last season because I don’t have any faith that we’d be able to replace them with an improvement.
We saw last year with George Honeyman and Lee Cattermole leaving the club that even mediocre players are missed if they’ve been a consistent part of the starting eleven.
This being said, there are obviously some players who Sunderland rely on most, and have the potential to continue to improve. Denver Hume and Lynden Gooch look to be the last Academy graduates to make the first team for a while, and if Parkinson continues with three at the back Jordan Willis is probably the club’s standout player. Luke O’Nien is another who is both a starting player, and can improve further.
Gary Harrison says...
The entire footballing landscape may have changed since our last promotion under Roy Keane, but the ingredients for any successful side haven’t altered all the much. That starts with a team that can defend.
At League One level we may not have shipped a huge amount of goals, but neither have we kept enough clean sheets. Willis appears to be kind of player to build a strong defence around.
In Hume we have the kind of young, hungry player that excites the crowd. He’s still very much at the stage where he needs to add constancy to him game. Something Luke O’Nien certainly did last term, with a number of Championship clubs sniffing around, so keeping hold of him will be a good indicator to how ambitious we are as a club in the long-term.
After Christmas last year Gooch looked like the player he was at the start of the 2018/19, he could evolve into a new, energetic version of Maguire - both of which should be players we build around going forward always with the potential to score.
If we can possibly bring in something different to compliment those players with a bit of added height, pace, creativity and goals we should be challenging for the top two automatic promotion positions - the only way we will make out of this division!