Well, some transfers drag on - and some happen in an afternoon.
Patrick Roberts seems to be coming up to Sunderland via a combination of a replacement bus service and the Robin Reliant van that the Trotters’ owned in Only Fools and Horses.
On the other hand, Danny Batth’s transfer happened really quickly. Nobody had even heard his name mentioned until last minute as a potential target, yet he arrived for the customary shirt picture with no fanfare. I for one think it will be an inspired signing.
Batth has a lot of what Sunderland need right now. You only need to look at the last three games for example - Wycombe, Lincoln and Accrington. Seven goals conceded against those sides is far too many. With him at the back, this should tighten things up.
Let’s look at why he’s a very good signing for us.
It doesn’t take a tactical genius like Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp to work out that we’ve been lacking a bit of physicality at the back.
Against powerful strikers in this league like Sam Vokes, John Marquis and Adebayo Akinfenwa, you need a bread-and-butter no-nonsense centre-half.
In Bailey Wright - we have one, but the Australian has been missing recently with Covid and doesn’t always dominate. Tom Flanagan isn’t the most physical of defenders, Callum Doyle is still learning his trade, and we didn’t see enough of Frederik Alves to form a real opinion.
Batth stands at 6’3 so would instantly add a much-needed aerial presence. His physique looks very solid and muscular and so will surely be a physical match for most centre-forwards. His ability in the air may also be an asset in the opposition box - with deliveries from free kicks and corners offering chances.
Stoke fans have said while he may lack pace, he absolutely loves to defend. Sunderland fans will surely get behind an all-out, battling defender that puts his body on the line.
The club have made no apologies for targeting younger players in order to develop them for the future - the main advantage being an improvement in their ability, and also the opportunity to sell them on and gain larger transfer fees.
But you need to get the right mix. Youngsters are all very well and good but sometimes an experienced head can make a huge difference. You can’t put a price on someone that’s been there and done it at a high enough level.
While Batth hasn’t ever played in the Premier League, he’s been a stalwart defender that’s played over 400 career games predominantly in the Championship. Earlier this season, in fact, he won November player of the month for Stoke, and has played 13 games in the second-tier already since August.
He may also be an ideal model for someone like Doyle to follow. The youngster at 17 is a baby in footballing terms, and will no doubt have a lot to learn about the art of defending. His talent is there for all to see but alongside someone like Batth, he may improve both on and off the field for his later career.
In my opinion, Sunderland are crying out for a leader on the pitch. I know we already have an official captain in Corry Evans, but he’s currently injured and hasn’t had a real run of games to show himself.
Batth has been a captain for his youth team aged 15, at Wolves for their League One winning season and then most recently he captained Stoke City after being appointed by manager Nathan Jones.
All of those managers can’t be wrong, surely. They must see him as a presence and he may be a vocal leader on the pitch. Sometimes I think such a young squad is so naive and with so many young, raw players - you can expect that.
With Batth in the side, he will surely be a captain in all-but name.
Length of the contract
The deal goes against the club’s aforementioned recruitment policy. It’s well known that the model we use currently prefers signing young players, but that doesn’t mean we have to exclusively sign kids - all teams need experience.
With Batth however it was important not to tie him down too long. The 18-month contract is perfect in offering the opportunity to sign a Championship standard experienced defender, but we also aren’t being held to ransom by a Jack Rodwell-type deal that could potentially turn sour later on down the line.
There may also be an opportunity for Batth to trigger an extension next season should he play enough games. If he’s fit enough and plays lots of football, that should warrant the club extending his deal even further.
All in all, we were needing an experienced, physically dominant centre-back.
Danny Batth looks like he ticks every box...