It’s now the beginning of July, pretty much slap bang in the middle of the close season.
Sunderland’s players have just returned for pre season training and things at the club are going better at this time of the year than many can remember.
The players look fit and raring to go, we’ve already brought four new faces through the door, and there are apparently more to come. The club seems to be on a surer footing than it’s been for a good few years, and the fact is that there’s clearly a plan and it seems to be working well so far.
The naysayers will continue to pour scorn on the project, claiming that throwing money at players is the only way to move forward.
They may moan that our failure to bring in a centre forward was our undoing during the playoff semi-final against Luton, that we need experience here and that nothing is won with kids.
The day after the Luton defeat, a member of BBC Radio Newcastle’s fans’ forum became somewhat agitated that the club hadn’t responded to repeated rumours that Tony Mowbray was on his way out.
The club has shown that it doesn’t respond to idle speculation (which it had already moved to quash weeks before anyway), and that we also don’t show our hand in transfer negotiations.
This afternoon, I picked up a copy of the Sunderland Echo, which was a depressing experience. It repeated the ‘Jack Clarke to Burnley’ rumour and some other days-old stories.
However, I then read Michael Walker’s thoughtful interview with the club’s sporting director, Kristjaan Speakman, in The Athletic, where an interesting insight into the club’s processes was outlined.
Speakman pointed out that although the plan was to sell players on at a premium, to date, this regime has yet to sell any major assets. Also, and tellingly, he said that, ‘We have to be clear here: the model is to create a team that can get promoted’.
Yes, Burnley can offer £9 million for Jack Clarke. He’s currently under contract until 2026, is happy at Sunderland and Speakman would be surprised if some of our players didn’t interest other clubs.
Similarly, when it comes to the Ross Stewart saga, Speakman is relaxed about the time it’s taking to thrash out a new deal.
We are really keen to retain Ross and everything from his camp is that he’d like to stay, but we haven’t got to an agreement that both parties would like to sign off. Externally that can seem strange, but we don’t think it is.
Dennis Cirkin re-signed last week and we’d been speaking to him about his contract for maybe six months.
It’s a ‘steady as she goes’ modus operandi from the club.
They don’t panic and they have a clear plan in place. They’re righting things which went wrong at the end of last season, and for a start, there’s a bit of height in all the newly-signed players.
Fans used to the old way of working panic when they don’t hear about significant players being tied down, or club announcements quashing idle speculation.
Just like the fans have been patient with the team when they make mistakes on the pitch, we need to have faith in the club’s regime. Since they took over from Stewart Donald and company, have they not earned a bit of trust?