Dear Roker Report,
I just wanted to have my say on the transfer window, and that I’m very happy with the business we’ve done and the way we’ve gone about it.
The biggest success for me was the fact we kept most of our best players, tied some of them down on better, longer contracts and when we were faced with bids, we didn’t undervalue anyone or grab the first offer that was tabled.
Of the players who left during the summer, the most notable were Amad, Lynden Gooch, Danny Batth and Ross Stewart. Amad was never ours and wasn’t coming back, and even if he was, the injury curtailed that.
In my opinion, Batth was solid but not irreplaceable.
Jenson Seelt, Nectar Triantis, Luke O’Nien, Aji Alese and even Trai Hume or Dennis Cirkin could play in his position and probably do equally as well, and could even fare slightly better.
Ultimately, someone had to go and if we have ambitions of Premier League football, Batth wasn’t part of that.
The one that hurts most is Gooch, not because we’ll miss any of his football, but because he was one of us.
Take the heart out of it and lead with the head, and he simply wasn’t good enough. Similar to Elliot Embleton and probably Batth, he’s a lower end Championship or top end League One player at best.
As for Stewart, just a simple dissection of the finances shows that he was never going to sign another contract, regardless of what was said.
If the rumours are true, he basically turned down an increase of about £10,000 to £12,000 per week on his previous deal and that contract has been in play since promotion. That’s over £500,000 he could’ve earned (which is pocket change for top players now) but I doubt he’s earned half of that in his whole career so far.
He was off in January to get that money back on a signing fee, and for us to get £10+ million for him, especially with his injury, is probably the best deal we’ve done since swapping Jozy Altidore for Jermain Defoe.
I just have a feeling that Stewart isn’t going to be the same player after the injury, but thanks and good luck to him.
Of the players we’ve brought in, four of them are strikers, and when was the last time we had that many?
OK, none are proven at this level but you only need a 25% success rate and we may just have the next hero on our books.
Bradley Dack and Jobe Bellingham look good so far and the rest will need to work hard to get into the team, but I personally love this youth policy because we’re seeing raw talent being developed, and that was obvious when Chris Rigg came on against Southampton.
All in all, we no longer seem weak in the transfer market, and nor are we a retirement home for ageing former Manchester United or Everton players.
Everything seems to sneak in under the radar and it’s all done with very good knowledge, not only on the football side but the mental side, which has created a great team spirit.
So far, I don’t recall a single signing in the KLD/Speakman era (apart from the new lads who are yet to play) that hasn’t contributed positively towards the position we’re in.
I don’t think anyone will be sold at a financial loss if the time comes, and that’s some record so far and one that as Sunderland fans, we’re simply not used to.
Haway the lads and let’s have another good season!
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Paul. Thanks for your letter.
I agree that, by and large, it was a successful transfer window in terms of adding depth and more exciting young talent to the squad.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that every signing we’ve made will be an instant hit, and some of them may take longer to get up to speed than others, but the club has stuck to its philosophy of recruiting young talent from home and abroad, and hopefully it’ll continue to be a successful method.
Regarding the players who’ve left, I can see the logic in each departure.
Lynden Gooch and Danny Batth did an excellent job for us, but we now have adequate options in each of their positions, and in the case of Ross Stewart, it certainly made sense to sell him now rather than risk losing him for nothing when his contract ended next summer.
Ultimately, the success of this window will be judged on the next few months, as we aim to progress and challenge towards the upper reaches of the Championship. Tony Mowbray certainly has some exciting options at his disposal, and I’m confident that we'll keep moving forward under his management.
Dear Roker Report,
Although I don’t want to denigrate Ross Stewart for following the money, I do believe he could’ve become a club legend. Sadly, however, he never got past the ‘L’.
The club did well to get the money they did for him, which probably funded the entire transfer business for the summer. Have we missed him? I don’t think so after Saturday’s dismantling of Southampton.
I’m over the moon with the window and I applaud the recruitment team for not panicking and throwing money needlessly.
Thanks for your brief service, Ross, and adios.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Harry. Thanks for getting in touch.
Despite the temptation to adopt a ‘screw him’ attitude (and the fact that defiance was very much the order of the day during the riotous victory over Southampton on Saturday), there’ll be absolutely no rewriting of history from me when it comes to the impact that Stewart made in red and white.
He arrived from Ross County as a relative unknown, and he eventually blossomed into the kind of dynamic, all-round centre forward that we sorely needed.
His goal record was excellent, his effectiveness to the team was equally so, and with one swing of his right boot at Wembley, he secured our return to the Championship after four years of League One purgatory.
His signing was a huge success and although he’s now moved on, we should be thankful for what he did for us during his time at the club.
Dear Roker Report,
Ross Stewart has gone to Southampton for bigger bucks, so good luck to him.
I notice the difference between Lynden Gooch’s most touching response to the fans and club and Stewart’s total silence regarding the supporters and the club.
Stewart needn’t comment if he doesn’t want to of course, but the difference in character stands out.
I feel he’s used Sunderland AFC as a stepping stone, as his career wasn’t exactly taking off in Scotland.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Stephen. Thanks for your letter.
I understand that some people might’ve found his initial lack of a farewell message slightly surprising, but on Tuesday, he did release a statement, thanking the Sunderland fans and wishing us well for the future.
Ultimately, players come and players go, and all we can do is wish Stewart the best for his new challenge at Southampton. Meanwhile, we’ll move on and continue to progress with the many exciting players we’ve got in our squad.