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Roker Roundtable: Has Sunderland’s summer transfer business been a success?

With the window now closed, bar free agent signings, we asked our panel for their thoughts on the club’s recruitment, and exactly how strong the squad actually is

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Rich Speight says…

I think the Lads’ squad is now more exciting and dynamic than at any point in the last ten years, to be honest.

Are there one or two positions where I think we could have got more cover in? Yes. The wing-back and full-back roles look vulnerable to an injury or two, but then the flexibility of both players and potential formations comes into play. One further central defender might have aided us, but finding someone of the required quality who might not be guaranteed a starting place - especially when the model dictates that paying money for older footballers is not going to happen - was always going to be difficult.

We might not have a third ‘natural’ striker but we now have a wealth of young attacking talent to call upon when required. We’ve seen from the top clubs in world football that the method of using two or three ostensibly wide forwards with the ability to interchange and drift across the front line can be equally effective as having a traditional nine and ten on the pitch together. I think Jewison Bennette in particular could potentially be the one who develops into an exciting third striking option from the bench.

Overall, a squad of 25-26 pretty adaptable senior footballers and the U21s to back them up should see us through until at least January, and I trust that Tony Mowbray will have them playing the kind of football that will have us well on the way to guaranteeing our Championship position by that point.

Sunderland Unveil New Signing Jewison Bennette Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

Overall, I would give the window a rating of seven or eight out of ten, but it has the potential to go both ways.

I think we are still short of a full-on attacker in case we lose one of Ross Stewart or Ellis Simms to injury, but the recruitment team may that feel one of the young lads can fill that role if needed. We do also have players in the age-group teams who are scoring well and may get a chance if needed, as Will Harris did last season.

I also think we have once again left ourselves a little understaffed at full-back.

If Tony Mowbray wanted to play with full-backs, I think he would have made that happen, so maybe we will primarily use a back three or five this season. We do need Daniel Ballard back soon as possible, and we have Aji Alese, but by letting Carl Winchester, go we lose a player that we used last season at right-back and centre-back, so I hope that doesn’t come back to bite us.

In general terms, I have to say that I’m impressed with the recruitment, both in terms of how it has been executed (with minimal leaks) and where we are getting players from. Internationals from Costa Rica and young hot prospects from Paris Saint-Germain are not general fare for Sunderland, as we know.

There is an element of a gamble with those lads, but you don’t get the huge gains that may happen unless you try. And if it worked for a Julio Arca, why not again?

Our data-based hiring and embracing of youth may well be a great thing for our future, but it could also fail and leave us very short, though we still have the January window if needed. By then, we will know more about what we need to play well at this level.

A solid 8/10 I think, and well done to the club for sticking to its strategy, which is not easy with even a minority of 35,000+ fans picking holes and knocking all you do.

Sunderland Training Session Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images,

Phil West says...

If I had to give our summer transfer business a rating out of ten, I would go for 7.5. Broadly speaking, it has been a window of exciting, forward-thinking recruitment, but it has not been entirely perfect, as I’ll come onto shortly.

The positives are that we have thrown our full weight behind a policy of investing in young, promising players, as illustrated by the arrivals of Edouard Michut, Abdoullah Ba, and Jewison Bennette. These are footballers with tremendous potential, and when their opportunities arrive, they will doubtless be eager to show what they can do.

Central defence was bolstered by the arrival of Dan Ballard, who was showing immense promise before being injured, and hopefully Aji Alese will be given more opportunities under Tony Mowbray. In addition, securing the services of Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts on permanent deals gives us greater creative depth, and the addition of Ellis Simms can hopefully provide Ross Stewart with an effective strike partner.

On the downside, we are markedly short of a big, physical midfield general who can deputise for Corry Evans when needed; another right full-back/wing-back may have been a shrewd addition, and there is an argument to be made that we do lack another out-and-out goal poacher, should anything befall Stewart.

To expand on and slightly digress from Rich’s point, I do get a sense that high value is being placed on players who can successfully fill different roles (Luke O’Nien’s current status as a first-choice defender is an example) and that adaptability is key.

In the Championship, where the football is more expansive, it is crucial for attackers to be able to float between positions and for teams not to be solely reliant on their centre forwards for goals. Amad Diallo, for example, could certainly be a goal-getter if needed.

Overall, a very satisfactory window, and I am confident that, under Mowbray, we will be solidly established in mid-table by the time the January window opens, and further reinforcements can be added.

Sunderland v Rotherham United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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