I’m feeling inspired this morning having read Nic Wiseman’s brilliant ITHICS Fanzine blog about the constant need that people have for regular transfer news during a transfer window, where the message was clear: apply logic, block out the noise, and stay calm!
We’re all guilty to some degree of getting sucked in by transfer gossip I imagine, particularly during the off-season when there’s no interesting football to watch and the days between pre-season friendlies feel like months and not days, but in many ways, we’re just victims of a system set up to garner clicks from thirsty supporters that, in turn, generates revenue for those that host the content we’re falling over ourselves to read and give an opinion on. There are outlets and reporters that have earned the trust of people through many years of consistent reporting, like L’Equipe and Fabrizio Romano, and then there are others who pose as genuine who only give us half-truths or biased reporting fed to them by people with an agenda, and I guess it’s our duty as fans to recognise when someone is trying to play us and when someone is giving you what they believe to be the truth.
Our media survives on having a constant stream of willing punters clicking to read their pages, so I get it. In the void where real news used to live there’s sometimes nothing, and to keep things going they’ve got to find things to write about that keep people coming.
Unfortunately, though, there are those that take advantage of people’s good nature and create bad news where it’s not necessary, and that’s the bit that I can’t stand.
Creating and causing problems for clubs to suit their own needs is poor, and I think that’s where collectively we as fans have to take a stand and call it out - and it’s been heartening to see more and more people railing against what they perceive to be deliberately inflammatory gossip.
Sunderland find themselves in an interesting position this summer, albeit not an unfamiliar one when it comes to the transfer window. We’ve quietly gone about our business, acquiring young players with specific attributes in mind, and we haven’t lost anyone of note - not yet, anyways. We’ve brought back players from injury who missed the end of last season, and there are more to come. That we were able to split the squad over two games on two occasions already during pre-season shows the strength of the position that we’re in, and the overall strength of a squad that, at times last season, looked incredibly thin.
What we’ve done this year which is different to previous seasons is that we did a big chunk of our transfer business before the players had even returned for pre-season. I can’t ever remember Sunderland signing four players in June, and when you think about it it’s the best way forward - it means the players get more time to settle into the new group and can take part in pre-season from the off, which must be a huge advantage. Look at Hemir, for instance, who has scored three goals in three games. Momentum is key.
You can’t sign all of your targets early, though. Sometimes we’ve got to be patient.
Because we opted to do some business early, there has been a big chunk of time since the last player, Seelt, came through the door and that has left some supporters on social media wondering why we aren’t seeing a more regular churn of incoming players - though of course, this misses the point entirely about the importance of doing your business early, the fact we’ve not really let anyone leave yet bar players who had no chance of staying anyways, and that the club doesn’t do their business in public.
It also ignores that a fundamental part of our transfer philosophy is built around acquiring young players from ‘big’ clubs in the Premier League, and most of these teams are still away on tour and need the players for the time being. I’m sure you’ve all heard Nathan Bishop’s name over the last few days after his run-in with Wrexham’s best player caused Phil Parkinson to suffer an aneurysm and Ryan Reynolds to blow a gasket - he’s been heavily linked to Sunderland, and the news coming out of Manchester is that he’ll be allowed to leave once they’re back from their trip abroad. Bishop is one of many players not just at Manchester United, but a host of clubs that realistically has no chance of playing first team football once the season starts but is very much needed to help bulk the squad out when they have a number of friendlies to play over a number of weeks.
We all know where the team still needs to be strengthened, and we all know that as it stands the squad isn’t quite where it needs to be, but isn’t that the case for every single one of the 92 clubs in the English pyramid? What makes Sunderland different to anyone else?
Transfers are like stacking dominos side by side - once one falls, so do the rest.
And to get the players you actually want and need, sometimes patience is required.
That doesn’t just apply to players you sign, but also to players you’re prepared to sell - I have no doubt that our best talents will be targeted by clubs higher up the pyramid, because we have some very good players. Anyone thinking we’ll never sell any of them are unfortunately kidding themselves.
The difference for me at least is that I fully trust the people in charge of recruitment, and whilst it’s natural to question every decision they make, I’m fairly comfortable just sitting back and letting them crack on, because I think over recent years they’ve more than earned my trust by signing some cracking players that have developed and improved with the club.
There’s over a month left of the transfer window, and I honestly think that the best approach is to just chill out, take everything with a pinch of salt and avoid getting embroiled in fueling a machine that thrives on controversy and, in many cases, lies.
What will be, will be. All I know is that I love watching my team these days because they play exciting football, score some cracking goals and make my experience as a fan more enjoyable than it has been for many years.
If we sign a few more players and add them into the mix, then great - I’ll look forward to it. The time for an inquest is never in the middle of the transfer window, so we’ll save that for September 2nd and see where we’re at then!