Phil West says...
I really do think that, by the time we take to the field against York, we need to have improved our squad to the tune of at least five new players.
By that point, the first league game of the season will be looming very large indeed, and we cannot afford to be rushing signings and attempting to integrate new players on a last-minute basis before Wigan arrive at the SOL in August. Tuesday’s news that Luke O’Nien has joined Aiden McGeady in recommitting to the club was very positive, but recruitment-wise, we’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us.
Lee Johnson did strike quite an upbeat tone at the weekend, albeit whilst determined to keep his cards close to his chest, and it is crucial that this translates into positive news over the coming week.
If the rumours are to be believed, Eric Lichaj, formerly of Hull and Nottingham Forest, is on trial, and he would certainly add some experience and steel to our changing room.
If Lichaj or another right back does arrive ahead of the next pre-season game, we also need to have secured two new central defenders, two strong, box-to-box midfielders, and a pacy, prolific striker.
That would certainly give us the spine of a stronger-looking squad, and hopefully more new signings would follow on the back of that. I think Lee Burge will remain as the first-choice goalkeeper for the bulk of the pre-season campaign, but that is still a position that needs to be addressed, and we certainly need to add pace in the wide positions as well.
Five players at the minimum ahead of York, and in total I still believe that at least eight new senior players are required before we kick off the 2021/2022 season.
Here’s hoping for some transfer market success!
Phil Butler says...
Given Sunderland’s second pre-season friendly is so long after their first, I think it’s fair to regard the game against York City as the real start of Lee Johnson’s semi-competitive preparations for the new season and the squad should, and I believe will, reflect that.
An acceptable squad for me would be a starting eleven which wouldn’t look out of place in a league game, so no playing Gooch and Diamond at wing-back and Winchester in defence - or whatever formation we ended up using against Spennymoor.
Hopefully both Denver Hume will join Luke O'Nien in resigning by this time, and if not our need for backup players in those positions regardless of the contract situations of the pair means that we should be fielding two full-backs which will get into our squad regularly during the season.
I don’t want to see us needing to play Will Grigg and Aiden O’Brien in wide positions, but replacing or resigning Hume would solve this problem anyways, and I would actually quite like to see us still in need of a handful of players in different positions in order to allow various youngsters to stake their claims for a spot in Lee Johnson’s plans for the upcoming season.
One signing please Lads - that doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
Malc Dugdale says...
My view is that the quality of the first team signings between now and the rest of the pre-season, and the early league games, is way more important than the quantity.
Too many times have we signed late and poor options, and they haven’t been worth a bench slot (ahem… Declan John). There is no point repeating the past errors. We have a data approach how - let’s prove we are using it.
Now that our Luke has signed up for another 3 years, we have one less worry about the midfield engine. The risk is though, if we don’t hire enough strong players for the defence, will O’Nien get to play in the middle of the park? He hasn’t for ages, so that has to be fixed.
With Hume still sitting on the fence, we need options for both full-backs too. We also need a couple more midfielders with real pace and creativity, and we need maybe one or two more attackers, with pace out wide and at the top of the pitch being critical. O’Brien should be a bench option at best, as he has failed to show he has quality above the league we are in.
If we only make 3-4 signings but they build up the spine of the team allowing it to be complemented by our promising youths, then I’d be okay with that. But then, we have pledged to develop our youth while re-signing a 35-year-old creative wide man… quite a good one, but the point is valid.
Whatever happens, Johnson and co need to be ready to explain their theory, as if they don’t hire enough quality and/or quantity soon enough to allow the team to gel, they will have a lot of “please explains” to deal with around Halloween should results not show promise for the season to come.
Now is not the time to panic, but 4-5 good players are needed in the next few weeks, or many will start to do just that.