First off, apologies to our regular readers who were promised this editorial column each and every Monday - we’ve been pretty rubbish at sticking to that promise but, y’know... life and that. The sun is out and I can’t promise that I’ll be spending my Sundays writing when there’s cold beer on the go.
It’s not as though we’re missing too much, in fairness - Sunderland appear to be coasting through the summer, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I find myself at the polar opposite end of the patience scale than some of my fellow fans, and I’m actually quite happy to just sit back and see what happens when it comes to our activity in the transfer market.
There was one bit of news this week that didn’t escape me though, and that was the news that Dion Sanderson had signed a new four-year deal with Wolverhampton Wanderers, before heading out on loan to Championship side Birmingham City.
There had been rumours that Sunderland had attempted to try and re-sign him but in all honesty, their efforts were futile. Wolves have obviously received a lot of interest in him and have reassessed their position, deciding that tying him down to a long term deal before allowing him the opportunity to gain some proper experience in the Championship is perhaps a better route to take than selling him for a poxy sum to a League One club.
Let’s be fair - two million quid for Dion Sanderson would have been daylight robbery, and Wolves aren’t that daft.
Still, it’s nice to dream and the notion that he might have even entertained coming here on a permanent basis whilst we remain in the third tier was nice, but for some it was a little hard to take. Some of the comments I saw across social media were baffling - people calling the new owner a skint fraud, all because we didn’t manage to prise Dion away.
Sadly, the longer we are down here, our fans are going to have to accept that we’ll be used by Premier League clubs and their players for their own gain, and that’s just something we have to come to terms with. Don’t see it as a negative - see it as an opportunity.
After all, how else do you manage to attract Premier League level players to a club in League One? Other than sheer luck, stealing a gem away from a lower league club or promoting your best young talent through your own academy, there’s no other way.
All top-level players need to earn their stripes somewhere though, and it’s rare they’ll get that chance to prove their worth being thrust at a young age straight into Premier League football.
So, that’s where clubs like Sunderland come in. We seize the opportunity to hoover up the best young talent waiting for a chance to prove their worth, and for a short while we reap the rewards by having players on board that really should be nowhere near the third tier.
Perfectly normal reaction to Sanderson signing for Birmingham pic.twitter.com/FREiHjNU7D— Gav (@CackStottie) July 19, 2021
That shouldn’t come at a cost to your own best players though. In a perfect world your squad will be comprised of older players with experience of playing at a higher level, your own best youngsters, value signings that you can develop and eventually make a profit on, and then loanees from higher leagues.
That seems to be the direction Sunderland are taking this summer, and our business to date reflects a common-sense approach to recruitment.
What the Sanderson deal from last season teaches us is that whilst it’s disappointing when they inevitibly leave and go on to play at a higher level, for that brief period you can seriously improve your squad - low risk, low cost, sensible business.
Frankly, if Sunderland had signed more players like Sanderson and less players like Remi Matthews, Danny Graham and Callum McFadzean last season, we might have got promoted.
So don’t be sad or angry that they’ve gone - be happy that they were ever here.
It’s sensible and straightforward, and those calling for the club to splash the cash might just want to think twice about what is a practical and modern approach to player recruitment.