I was honestly quite astonished yesterday when I opened my phone to see photos of the Sunderland players back in pre-season training.
Where the hell has that time gone?
Oh yeah... the EUROs.
It’s been the perfect distraction, to be honest. I’ve barely thought about Sunderland this summer beyond keeping Roker Report ticking along with my pals here, and that’s quite honestly been a good thing.
England have been fantastic so far in this tournament, and it’s been nice to support a team that looks capable of achieving something. Being able to watch it with my toon-supporting mates is an added bonus, given we’re only ever on the same page footy-wise once every few years.
Sunderland laid the foundations for a long term plan in the latter stages of last season, making a host of key appointments across the board, ones that ought to set us up for a successful future as the club progresses back through the leagues.
Giving the likes of Speakman, Johnson, Kyril and Maurice Louis Dreyfus, Steve Davison, Lewis Dickman, Stuart English, Stuart Harvey and co some time to get their feet under the table in those final few months was important. It will have allowed them ample time to assess what needs to be done in the short and medium term to ensure we have a successful campaign in 2021-22.
I know that there are people in the fanbase who are already frustrated by our lack of movement in the transfer market, but I see no reason to panic yet.
We’ve been assured that the club are going to head down a far more strategic path than we’re accustomed to, so what we should expect and when we should expect to see results, I honestly don’t know. This is as new to me as it is to every other Sunderland fan.
What I do know is that the majority of players only become free agents today, and that should be the thing that pushes things along across the board.
The best players will have a number of opportunities to mull over. Unless one of those opportunities is too good to turn down, they’d be right to take their time.
I have no idea which players Sunderland are targetting, but I have no doubt that the higher-uppers aren’t just sat on their hands doing nothing.
They’ll be working hard to get things in shape.
And when the signings finally start to be announced, I don’t think we’re going to be blown away. We aren’t going to splash the cash and spend fortunes on players - not at this level, and not after a year and a half of having to operate through a pandemic.
It’s never been about how much you spend, though. I’ve seen plenty of crap players signed for ridiculous fees at Sunderland over the years. It’s about how you spend it, and the types of players that you target.
All clubs at all levels want to bring players in that can make a difference, and even make the club a few quid down the line. The key is to identifying ones that are maybe underperforming at certain clubs, but their data shows they’re capable of being far better.
That’s where these people will be made to earn their money, and the time to judge certainly isn’t now.
For now, though, I’m just remaining calm and enjoying what’s left of the EUROs.
Hopefully, England are successful come the end of it, whilst in the background, Sunderland’s management team continue to work hard on building a strong squad for the upcoming season.