News emerged this weekend, in both the local and national press, that Sunderland are said to be interested in signing Jay Spearing - recently released from Blackpool.
It goes without saying that Phil Parkinson will be keen to add to his squad with a raft of players having left the club after the expiration of their contracts. Simply put, this summer will be another rebuild of large proportions.
However, whether a genuine association or a lazy connection due to having previously worked with Phil Parkinson at Bolton, Spearing’s link with Sunderland once more raises questions about Sunderland’s recruitment plan and whether the club will learn from past mistakes.
Should Jay Spearing join the club in the coming weeks, he certainly deserves a chance to prove that he is capable of improving the team. Indeed, Spearing impressed in both games he played against Sunderland this season.
However, looking at Sunderland’s current squad, do we need another combative midfielder? Max Power, George Dobson, Josh Scowen, and Grant Leadbitter are all players of a similar mould, so is Spearing honestly needed?
An honest analysis would suggest that Sunderland are in desperate need of pace and athleticism in the side, as well as players capable of fashioning and finishing chances. So, does the tenacious midfielder match the type of player Sunderland need moving forward?
Looking at Spearing’s career statistics, it’s clear to see that the former Liverpool midfielder has a vast amount of experience throughout English football. With 147 appearances at Championship level and 142 in League One, Spearing would certainly bring competition to the Sunderland midfield.
Known as a tough-tackling midfielder who covers a lot of ground, Spearing’s addition to the Sunderland midfield could maybe add the bite that has sometimes been lacking - though many Sunderland fans saw Josh Scowen’s addition to the side as an attempt at remedying that issue.
Perhaps with Grant Leadbitter struggling for a spot in the Sunderland side, could Spearing be seen as the experienced player needed to help simultaneously provide cover for the current midfield whilst also challenging them for their position?
Could it be argued that someone like George Dobson would benefit from training and playing with someone like Jay Spearing? Suited to pressing across the pitch and distributing the ball effectively from deep, Spearing offers something Sunderland have arguably lacked at times this season.
That being said, looking at the bigger picture in terms of recruitment, would the potential signing of Jay Spearing make sense for Sunderland?
Looking at Sunderland’s squad right now, it’s clear to see that Sunderland need to focus their recruitment efforts on creative players as well as a forward capable of finding the goals we need to find promotion. However, in addition to these immediate concerns, the club also need to look at underlying issues that have hampered our performances.
Throughout the team there is a chronic lack of pace and power. Sunderland need strong, fast players capable of asserting their dominance in the rough and tumble of League One. Spearing is certainly an aggressive presence, but would he provide the physicality and athleticism that the side have lacked for so long?
Furthermore, there is an argument to be made about the club’s vision and long-term goals. Should the club be looking at players over the age of thirty unless they’re almost guaranteed to improve the team? Could it be argued that the club need to focus their recruitment on players capable of improving the team whilst also potentially offering the chance of financial gain later down the line?
Ultimately, the potential signing of Jay Spearing will be an interesting insight into the club’s ambitions ahead of next season and beyond.