Malc Dugdale says...
My overall feeling about our transfer window business is a bit of a “good, but let’s wait and see”, to be honest.
Despite the 6-0 humping we took which cost Johnson his job, I think in time both Batth and Trai Hume will add quality to the backline once fully up to speed.
The sale of Flanagan without a replacement leaves a lot of questions about squad depth, especially while Wright and Willis are still unfit. Maybe Arby has impressed enough, and he could do the job. Let’s hope so.
For me, there is also some concern that we only have young Cirkin for the left of our defence (and he hardly shone in Lancashire at the weekend either). The difference is, for once I have faith that the recruitment team have a plan for those backline issues. They are now quietly organised, methodical and data-driven, rather than being wide open to gazumping of targets through crap deal management, leading to SAFC being over-reactive and often panic buying “fading stars” from the past. No duds as yet, we hope.
Moving up the pitch, it is the midfield that I am most happy with, especially after we secured Matete from Fleetwood to shore up the middle with physicality and beef. With him in the mix, Winchester may be pushed into defence till we get that depth sorted, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Neil can do with Matete alongside, for example.
In attacking midfield terms we have a plethora of options with Roberts and Clarke adding to a recovering Pritchard and McGeady, young Embleton and a “nearly went” Gooch. If we struggle for width going forward now, it will only be due to the size of the pitch!
Up front we have despatched with O’Brien which I think was the right thing for him and us, and the prodigal son has come home in Jermain Defoe.
Clearly, he is 39 and approaching the end of his career, but his experience and knowledge at every level around this predominantly young squad can only be positive, and the thought of him, Broadhead and Stewart taking on League One defences forces me to rub my hands looking forward to what may come.
So, overall I’m happy with the window, but with conditions - we need more at the back and we are hoping a bloke even older than Geads can fire at this level, but we are rid of some iffy if not fully deadwood, and on balance, we are better off than we were as long as these options all work out, or most of them at least.
On to Saturday, for a packed house to welcome back Bradley’s bestie.
Can’t bloody wait. I almost feel sorry for Donny already.
Kelvin Beattie says...
The sourcing of younger, ambitious players of skilful attacking calibre is reassuring given our return to the managerial-merry-go-round. I have been genuinely excited this season by the new regime/model, and for the main part the progress so far.
Matete has been on my radar for a few months, so I was delighted when the news broke that we were interested. I know we do not possess currently a player like him and I have a really good feeling about him.
Clarke and Roberts at this stage are in the “good punt” category. Who knows how they will go, but given their age and past performances, it excites me to find out. Dajaku has shown enough to feel he can offer us something different down the right flank.
My only question is with McGeady, Diamond, Dajaku, Gooch, Clarke and Roberts, we look a tad over-stocked on our flanks at present.
Trai Hume, Huggins and Cirkin, fit the new DNA and generally hint at good things to come.
More immediately, Cirkin and Doyle have looked out of sorts - hopefully, this can be effectively addressed.
Moving on to our older and more experienced players recruited. Batth looks like the big no-nonsense stopper that most of us felt we needed. His debut was quietly effective - I am not going to hold his cracking own goal against him, but like all who played at Bolton, he needs to bounce back with a rip-snorter of a game against Doncaster. The eventual return of O’Nien and Wright from injury gives us a good strong combative look to central defence.
Pritchard’s return was overshadowed by the horror show at Bolton - just prior to his latest absence he was showing us what a classy handful he can be, so hopefully he gets back in this groove quickly and for what is left of this season.
The close season acquisition of Evans, seemed sensible and necessary to me. Apart from a couple of solid games, he has only played in fits and starts. I get why we bought him in, I want to see his experience and game more imposed on our performances.
The clamour from some to sign Defoe was bordering on delusional at times. I am delighted, (despite his age and game time this season) that he has signed and look forward to seeing him support Stewart and Broadhead when he returns.
AOB and Denver outgoing seem about right to me. I was disappointed that Younger was let go - we may need him if injuries prevail. Flanagan has been marmite throughout his time with us. The vitriol hurled his way was becoming a distraction. His transfer will be mutually beneficial. Hawkes may yet thrive in a Tranmere team that plays a good attacking game.
All in all, as good a window as any in the last five years at least.
Onwards and upwards we go!
Michael Dunne says...
The Sunderland that are continuing the season in February is extremely different to the one that began the new year with.
Clearly, the head coach’s departure was unexpected. However, on top of that, the personnel that have departed has surprised me somewhat.
The departure of Tom Flanagan especially is one I did not anticipate, nor really want to happen. Makes no bones about it, the Northern Irish international was certainly not one of the fan favourites at the club.
His tendency to make a mistake frustrated fans.
Personally, other than the last couple of games where he had some shaky moments, I have been impressed with him. His departure to Shrewsbury leaves us short at the back. It leaves us with Callum Doyle, Danny Baath, Arbenit Xhemajili and Bailey Wright.
The latter pair have been injured plenty of their time at Sunderland.
Unless the club are planning on getting someone in on a free transfer, it makes no sense to me as to why they would leave themselves short in a race for promotion.
Regarding the incomings, the obvious name that people will cite is Jermain Defoe. Defoe will bring serious ability to the team, but one must question whether he still has it. Despite what he says, Defoe is 39 now and is certainly not getting any younger. I have no doubt though that he will bring something to the team.
I am excited by the signings of Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts. Both players arrive with a reputation of exciting fans. If both can get match fit, Sunderland will have a wealth of options going forward.
Jay Matete seems highly regarded by many - he is the one that excites me the most. He is young, athletic from what I can see and sounds like exactly what we need in midfield. It is said that many clubs were interested in him, which only bodes well.
Overall, I think Sunderland find themselves in a stronger position.
We look stacked going forward, solid in midfield but possibly light in defence.
If we can get the right appointment for head coach, and a little luck with injuries, I would be confident of a positive next few months.