Over the past few transfer windows, our recruitment strategy has come under scrutiny. In the last window, the lack of incoming strikers was the main area of contention among fans.
There have also been rumblings in some quarters around a lack of experienced players. It seems the club is ‘all in’ with the investment in youth, but this season has silenced these critics to some extent, and we must now all get used to the way Sunderland will continue to do business moving forward.
If this last bit of the season is showing us anything, it’s that the recruitment team is clearly doing a lot of groundwork on players and investing in the right type of player.
Not only are their footballing capabilities and potential being scouted, but also the type of character we invest in is thoroughly examined too. This squad is young and talented, but they are also highly driven and very down-to-earth.
It seems egos aren’t an issue, and we are steering clear of troublesome characters that could potentially rock the boat. Creating cohesion has been prioritized, and it is becoming evident that this has been achieved.
This cohesion and togetherness were clear to see when watching the celebrations of our players last Sunday after our win at WBA.
Both our classy second Cirkin goal and the celebrations after the final whistle showcased this. All players were celebrating, and their passion was evident.
They were all buzzing, and it was infectious.
There is a togetherness with this squad, and that has been thoroughly thought out.
It’s down to the type of character that we are recruiting. It’s those same characteristics these players have been targeted for that have left us in a position where we could end the season in the playoffs, despite the injuries and numerous other setbacks throughout the season. That never-say-die attitude is quite a change from Sunderland squads of years gone by, from our last Championship season and some League One seasons.
I love this change.
As a born and bred Londoner, I have come in for some abuse over the years for supporting Sunderland. This was compounded when we became a laughingstock of a club after being relegated to League One, and our club was rotten. It was embarrassing.
This squad makes me proud once again, and we should all feel proud. We currently have the biggest injury list in the division, we are without our best striker, no fit centre backs, and are playing players out of position.
Yet we are still going into important games against playoff-chasing teams and winning them through playing great football, demonstrating incredible determination, and putting bodies on the line. It’s wonderful to see.
As a fan, this squad has made me puff my chest out over the last few months, brimming with pride. I can’t wait to see the SOL packed out on Saturday for the visit of Watford and for everyone to give these young lads the backing they deserve.
They have given everything this season, and to be thinking of the playoffs is an incredible achievement. This squad has so much going for it.
Next year, whatever happens, we will need all these attributes and characteristics they are demonstrating to see us through a successful campaign.
That is because of the type of individual we are targeting.
Long may it continue.