It’s safe to say that this summer’s transfer window has been one of the more interesting of recent times, particularly when it comes to arrivals at the Stadium of Light.
An early flurry of signings, a lull to follow, and then a couple of new additions has meant that Sunderland’s squad has been boosted in terms of depth, albeit not entirely with the ‘proven quality’ that many fans have demanded.
Of the summer arrivals to date, Jobe Bellingham has been the most exciting by a country mile, and managing the former Birmingham attacker will be key this season.
As is the way at the Stadium of Light these days, potential has been invested in, young talent has been backed, and quick fix solutions and veteran players have generally been overlooked.
Bradley Dack is the one exception to that rule but as we’ve seen recently, the former Blackburn midfielder isn’t fully fit and nor is he suited to the ‘false nine’ role into which he’s been shoehorned in recent games.
With less than a week to go until the window closes and we can eventually take stock of what’s gone on, there’s still tension and anxiety aplenty as the search for a striker goes on and the demands for Kyril Louis-Dreyfus to ‘show ambition’, to ‘dip into his trust fund’ and to ‘prove that he’s got the financial clout to take the club further’ continue.
Frankly, and as much as we’d all like to see it, it’s nigh on impossible to see this mystical ‘proven’ striker being unveiled at the Academy of Light this week, unless the club is hiding the mother and father of all aces up its sleeve.
If another forward does arrive, it feels like they’ll be a player of potential and untapped talent, rather than someone with a stellar record at this level and the kind of name that’ll provide a ‘hold the back page’ moment.
A player such as Nazariy Rusyn, whose protracted arrival on Wearside has rumbled on for weeks, would fit this profile perfectly and if the deal is sealed, the Zorya Luhansk attacker would certainly add a different dimension to Sunderland’s front line.
Whether we like it or not, the recent signing of Joel Piroe by Leeds United proved, once again, that Sunderland are shopping in a different market to many clubs in this division.
The Whites have a lucrative kitty of parachute payments into which they can dip at will, and we’re working with a more modest budget and not relying on a rich benefactor and hoping he doesn’t get bored and turn the taps off.
The only way that big-money signings are going to arrive at the Stadium of Light is on the back of the sale of key players- of which it’s important to remember that this regime hasn’t overseen a single one as yet.
It’s giving the fans something to think about and it’s something that’s still not being easily accepted.
Trying to promote the virtues of financial sustainability when our nearest and dearest are cranking up the spending and attempting to gatecrash the Premier League’s old order is a tough sell, but that’s the way it is, unless Dreyfus feels the need to sell the club to an as-yet-unnamed individual or group who’ll take us down a different path.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s draw with Coventry (an excellent result, all things considered), local media outlets peddled the ‘Mowbray pessimistic in striker search’ angle with relish. It might’ve succeeded in whipping the fans into a frenzy on social media, but it conveniently set aside two key points in the process.
The first of which is that Mowbray had rightly flagged up that finding such players isn’t the easiest task in the world, as well as the fact that once Ross Stewart and Eliezer Mayenda are fit, two strikers come into the first team picture, thereby giving us far more scope in an attacking sense.
Rusyn might prove to be an inspired addition and he could slot into our attack quite comfortably, or like Hemir, he might not be an instant hit and may need time to adjust, despite some impressive numbers in European domestic football.
Will we afford him that time, and how much patience is there? Let’s hope we do, and that there’s plenty, because the last thing this club needs is to slip back into its old habits after such a successful return to the Championship last season.
In the final hours of the summer window of 2006, we embarked on a mini-spree as a flurry of new signings were unveiled as Roy Keane began to reshape the squad.
In came underrated gems such as David Connolly, mixed with the experience of stalwarts such as Dwight Yorke and Darren Ward, and it set us on the road to eventual success.
Such a crazy final day feels unlikely this time round, and there’ll no doubt be an inquest, regardless of how our squad looks by the time we kick off on Saturday. It’s a key week for our club and one that could well set the tone for the months to follow.