“It would’ve been easy to bring a player in, put a number nine shirt on them, and say ‘ta-da’, here’s a striker’, but we’re not going to make a move that provides a negative to the group.”
Those were the closing words of Sunderland’s sporting director Kristjaan Speakman, talking on the club’s official podcast yesterday, and you have to have a lot of sympathy with his plight.
The fact that we only have one recognised striker available for the remainder of the season is worrying to say the least, and Speakman’s been taking a lot of stick for this.
Indeed, speaking on the Roker Rapport Podcast at the weekend, Sky Sports’ Tom White said that he fully expected us to have two strikers lined up by the end of the transfer window, as I think many of us did.
The fact that we didn’t is frustrating but it doesn’t mean we can’t challenge for a playoff place.
After all, the team’s been developing very nicely under Tony Mowbray, and some of the nonsense I’ve read on Twitter during the past few days is ludicrous. When we beat Wycombe in the League One playoff final last May, how many fans thought we’d be in this position at this stage of the season?
Speakman also let slip that he was on the phone to head of recruitment Stuart Harvey at half-time on Saturday, when it was clear that Ross Stewart’s injury was serious, in order to get the wheels in motion.
As I suspected, numerous attempts to land a striker were made, but to no avail.
The recruitment record since Kyril Louis-Dreyfus took over has been exemplary. Some mistakes have been made, but not many. Also, they certainly haven’t let valuable players go, and there’s been no Josh Maja-type situation under this regime.
There have been mutterings about tying Stewart down to a new contact but he’s still here and most likely would’ve been had he not sustained an achilles tear.
It’s clearly a case of ‘hold your nerve’, even if the January transfer window is agonising for fans everywhere.
Clubs who are organised rarely use it as they don’t need to, whereas we’ve made a few additions but really only tweaked the squad.
Fulham in the FA Cup last Saturday was my first away game, although I’ve been to all the home games this season, in a reverse of how I usually watch the Lads. We’ve been steadily developing a hugely exciting brand of football which put us well and truly on the map at the weekend.
Let’s get behind the team and see what else they can come up with, starting on Wednesday at the Stadium of Light as we aim to get past Fulham so we can beat Leeds again, on the fiftieth anniversary of doing so at Wembley.