Amid the excitement of the Euros finally getting underway and it’s easy to overlook the fact that, a week on Saturday, we play our first pre-season friendly of the season – away in the Great Annual Savings derby with Spennymoor.
Before that, we’ve got the new season’s fixtures being announced on Thursday and, presumably, the players will be back in for pre-season training at some point over the coming week.
However, we’ve made no new signings as yet, and we’re still at the mercy of four players who’ve been offered contracts for next season who haven’t yet given us answers.
For Sunderland’s sake, those answers need to come urgently.
Regardless of what you think of Wyke, McGeady, Hume and O’Nien (for what it’s worth, I’d be very keen to keep Hume and O’Nien, am indifferent about McGeady and quite happy to see Wyke go) the fact is that three of these players have been regulars in three failed promotion attempts now.
And we’re letting them keep us in a state of limbo.
The lack of news on all four is becoming a concern – primarily because it holds up everything else Speakman and Johnson have to do this summer from a recruitment perspective.
In an ideal world, you’d have the vast majority of your squad together for the first day of preseason training, but football rarely works like that. However, we’re looking likely to start preseason training with the skeleton squad that was announced on the retained list at the end of the campaign. When a relatively new head coach is hoping to drill in a new ethos and mentality, he needs the players there to stand a chance.
We’re currently one of only four clubs not to have yet made a signing in League One.
Of the others, Lincoln have retained the vast majority of the squad that reached the playoff final (although their loan quota was high), while relegated Sheffield Wednesday have a good squad who were relegated only thanks to a points deduction and have their own off-field problems to contend with.
Other teams are strengthening while we appear to be doing very little at all – and part of the reason we’re in limbo land is because of the lack of decisions from Wyke et al.
Of course, they’re well within their rights to hang on for as long as possible, see what contract offers are out there and make the right decision for them. And I’d argue the contract situations should have been resolved way before we reached the summer.
However, the situation we’re in now needs resolved – and fast.
We could see a barrage of news this week – players in, new contracts signed – but there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of news being communicated at present.
Last summer we came back to training late, organised a bunch of haphazard friendlies, none of which were against opposition of a higher standard, and we started the season undercooked.
We do have a whole new footballing department working at the club, of course, and that should give us some confidence that things are happening behind the scenes.
However, we’ve only got two preseason games arranged – publically at least. Spennymoor a week on Saturday and York 10 days or so before the new season starts. Of course, no one is sitting on a flight website waiting for an announcement of a preseason jaunt to Portugal, but given the lack of substance of the previous regime, you’d have thought the club would be keen to communicate what’s happening. And, bar a couple of youngsters signing contracts, there’s been very little coming out of the club.
Having said all of that, things move quickly in football.
We could be in for a busy week.