Upon achieving another phenomenal great escape in the Premier League in 2014, Sunderland and Gus Poyet swiftly shifted their focus to ensure the squad was improved significantly to avoid another repeat performance.
Understandably, defence was the first port of call for the club. They were pushing hard to try and sign Marcos Alonso on a permanent contract after his successful loan spell with the club from Florentina.
Furthermore, just weeks after the season finished, Poyet had already recruited his first new signing in the shape of right back Billy Jones from West Brom. Jones’ signing was hoped to add competition where Phil Bardsley had become a mainstay in the team after Paolo Di Canio was replaced by Poyet.
Around this time, speculation was mounting that the club was eager to add an experienced central defender to a leaky defence. Swansea captain Ashley Williams appeared to be the number one target for the club in this department.
The Welsh defender had steadily improved over the years since gaining promotion to the Premier League with the Swans - but it appeared that talks over a new contract with the club had reached an impasse - opening the door for Sunderland to test the resolve of Swansea’s ownership.
Just the week previous, The Black Cats made a £4m offer for the Wales international last week and that has been knocked back by Swans boss Huw Jenkins.
It has been suggested Sunderland will make an improved offer for the 29-year-old, but the player’s agent, Jamie Moralee, hinted yesterday that leaving the Liberty Stadium is not really in his thinking though he did admit the interest from Sunderland in his client.
We’ll see what happens. A bid’s come in from Sunderland, but I’ve got no control over who bids for my players and neither has the player. At the moment Ash is in Sardinia, I’m in Brazil and Huw is somewhere else. It’s up to Swansea to make him an offer because he doesn’t want to leave.
Just because a club has put a bid in, that’s not to say Ash wants to leave – that’s far from the truth. There’s been a lot of interest in Ash and that was always going to be the case, particularly as he only has one year left on his contract.
Alas, it appeared that our interest in Williams was merely used as a bargaining tool for Jamie Moralee to try and get a better contract for his client. Ultimately, Sunderland were knocked back in their pursuit and in early July, the defender signed a new four-year contract.
For Poyet, it was a summer of frustration where many of his main targets failed to join the club. One of the signings that the club did pull off was the £10 million signing of Jack Rodwell - which will go down in club history for all the wrong reasons.