So, Sunderland have made their first couple of signings - we are Sunderland, however, and it would be strange to have a straightforward summer transfer window. Considering the ongoing upheaval behind the scenes at scenes it would be impossible, you’d think, not to affect our transfer activity. From the toing and froing of a takeover of the club to the changes to the scouting team it is far from ideal preparation for a third attempt at a promotion push.
Our downward spiral began during Big Sam’s first summer transfer window, the moment meant to be Sunderland’s turning point... but once the Football Association’s laboured approach had ground all of the club’s transfer business to a halt the writing was on the wall, leaving us to play catchup and subsequently we never recovered that infamous summer.
What affected that David Moyes team most was the club’s inability to keep the important players that had been pivotal to our survival under Allardyce or land our main targets. Part of that was due to the time it had taken for the FA to complete the appointment of Allardyce while back then those who were running the club also restricted progress.
Back to this pre-season, and yet again we appear to be behind our rivals in terms of momentum. But with uncertainty still surrounding the vote on wage caps Sunderland may be wary regarding their most expensive targets.
A lot of emphasis from fans appears to be how unambitious the club are for mainly approaching players who are free agents. But in fairness, at this level clubs only give players short term contracts, so a lot of the business is bound to be free agents. Going forward this could well be a trend adopted by clubs at Championship level also, especially if the level of debt and financial uncertainty – for those gambling their futures for the Premier League promised land – grows exponentially.
Falling revenues and playing behind closed doors could have grave consequences for a huge number of clubs – with or without a wage cap to assist or contend with. Put into a context, we would have rather had Yann M’Vila on a free transfer than break our transfer record for Didier Ndong. It also sums up how far behind Sunderland were regarding the clubs were we hoping to compete with. Three years on, and we are hoping to sell the entire club, lock stock and two misfiring-barrels for just short of the average cost of a record Premier League signing.
Unearthing talent with the right mentality without huge transfer fees is key to our resurrection – war horse over war chest almost. The perfect example is Super Kev, a one-off perhaps. Expectation and reality are difficult to balance, lest we forget it is a long way back to where we all feel the club belongs. But even 20 plus years ago, Peter Reid spoke how some felt he wasn’t delivering expectation, even the clubs most successful manager in recent times felt he’d have received more plaudits from fans if he’d paid ten times the amount for Kevin Phillips.
I would like to see our investment focused on young, hungry players with desire as manager Phil Parkinson has himself described.
The right players do not necessarily have to command a huge transfer fee. We would rather take a player on a free who comes up to scratch over a £3m white elephant... takeover completed or not, the club cannot afford any more costly mistakes.
Come September the club needs to see certainty, stability, and progress! It shouldn’t matter how much our transfers cost or how many we sign as long as they are the right fit for what is required, and they provide everything we’re currently lacking.
We would take that over marquee signings or three or four ill-equipped and ineffective signings from the Premier League as has been suggested…