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What did we learn from Kristjaan Speakman’s latest interview?

Sunderland’s sporting director provided an update as we reflect on the summer transfer window. Dan Harrison looks at what he had to say...

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Following an exhilarating end to the summer transfer window, Kristjaan Speakman has taken part in an interview detailing how it played out and our aspirations for the remainder of the season.

With ten departures- three of them on loan- and eleven arrivals, we found ourselves undertaking quite an overhaul following our sixth-place finish during the 2022/2023 campaign.

Our transfer business was effectively completed in two major waves: at the beginning of the window and right at the very end, and in his latest interview, Speakman discusses the plan, and exactly how satisfied he is with the current squad.

What does Speakman discuss?

He begins by addressing the incomings in the forward position on deadline day, highlighting that we aimed to bring in different types of attacking options with signings such as Eliezer Mayenda, Nazariy Rusyn & Mason Burstow, who arrived on loan from Chelsea.

Sunderland v Southampton - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Speakman discusses the fact that with a variety of options in the forward line, we’re able to provide Tony Mowbray with the tools required to field a team capable of playing different styles of football.

In addition, it’ll allow us to adapt depending on the opposition, thus making Sunderland a much more competitive outfit moving forward.

We feel like there’s certainly a lot of depth within the squad, there’s great potential within the group.’

Speakman then talks about the many departures from the club, placing emphasis on the idea that they wanted to do right by the players by fulfilling their original promises of game time.

He notes that if the club was unable to deliver on such promises, they wanted to ensure they gave players this opportunity with a suitable club.

Special mention was given to Bailey Wright, Carl Winchester, Danny Batth and Lynden Gooch.

I’m very understanding of Speakman’s comments that although these players were immensely popular with the supporters, Sunderland couldn’t guarantee them game time and therefore wanted to allow the players to achieve this at alternative destinations.

Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Ross Stewart situation is also explained, and it demonstrates the first instance of the model in action.

Interestingly, Speakman mentions that the decision was ultimately made ‘to protect the interests of the club.’

This is refreshing to hear, as it’s clear that no player is bigger than the club and the sizeable fee received would benefit us much more in the future than allowing Stewart to leave for free next summer.

The interview then shifts to the issue of contract renewals, with Trai Hume, Luke O’Nien & Chris Rigg among those to have committed their futures to Sunderland.

Speakman highlights that this showcases the club as a desirable place for players to grow and develop, as well as demonstrating the wealth of talent we’re slowly accumulating in the process.

Comments are also made about the progress made in maintaining our fantastic academy system, and continuing to hone and nurture the future of the club well beyond the years of the current first team.

Sunderland v Southampton FC - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Speakman concludes with a short synopsis of what lies ahead, assuring supporters that although a higher final position than last season would demonstrate clear and measurable progress, the development of such a young core is the most important thing the board are looking to achieve.

Some fans might be quick to criticise, however this positions us for exponential growth and effectively creates a ‘promotion ready’ side in-house with huge resale value.

What does this mean to the fans?

Some fans have been extremely critical of Speakman over the summer, but I’m very much of the opposite opinion, as it’s clear to see the plan and trajectory the club is on.

By allowing these players to develop at the same time, all fighting competitively for game time and performing at a high level, we’re effectively building a team that will undoubtedly be an automatic promotion contender within the next three seasons, after being built from the ground up.

Sunderland v Southampton FC - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

By constructing a squad with depth in every position, Mowbray is being given the tools to implement a variety of different playing styles, but to also do what he’s best known for: developing young men into mature and technically gifted footballers.

The recruitment team is currently building a squad that the fans will thank them for, two or three years down the line.

My message to my fellow supporters is to be patient and to allow these talented players to grow and reach their potential.

During the next two to three years, we could quietly find ourselves with one of the most exciting squads in English football.


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