I’m guessing most of you, having looked at the title of this piece, would have automatically said, “No”. If you did, I don’t think anyone could blame you for that opinion, especially if you have looked back at recent seasons. But, and it is at this stage a big but, Sunderland could actually be a bit of a dark horse. The club could be looking at an upturn in fortunes given what has gone on with their managerial situation. The question soon could, therefore, be Sunderland: next season’s unknown quantity?
Since Dick Advocaat completed his U-turn, to the delight of Sunderland and its supporters, things have gone very quiet on the recruiting players front. Little has been said by the club with supporters relying on a steady stream of transfer rumours from various media sources. Sunderland have so far made one signing, the expected permanent deal of Sebastian Coates from Liverpool. Coates was on loan at Sunderland last season; he started very slowly but, once Advocaat took charge, his performances were usually of a high standard. Advocaat has also assembled his back room team. The team includes ex-Sunderland midfielder and Captain, Paul Bracewell. Bracewell had three spells at the club as a player, has been player/assistant manager and has also worked at the academy. He knows the club and the area well, so should be a good person to have alongside Advocaat. Things are starting to move, slowly – but they are moving.
Apart from the one done deal on the transfer front, could keeping quiet be Sunderland’s trump card? Other clubs may think they know who Sunderland are going for, but do they really? Would Sunderland or any other club risk letting on who they plan to bid for knowing that the worst case scenario could happen and another club could out-bid them, etc, stealing the player for themselves. Some clubs can’t help but let the world know who they want to sign as they want to show the rest of the League their intent for the coming season. The savvier among the clubs will keep their dealings quiet until the player has signed and is holding the club scarf above his ahead outside the stadium.
No one outside of the club knows what’s going on or who they are targeting; the club’s keeping things very close to its chest. Supporters know there is money to spend, but how much money depends on which media sources you believe. We know that Advocaat has stated that the team needs five to six quality players; this was known before he left and has been stated many times since.
With Advocaat’s knowledge and experience, owner, Ellis Short, and Sporting Director, Lee Congerton, supporting him in various ways, I would not expect Sunderland to be spending money for the sake of it this summer, which has happened before. They know the team needs improving, and the word “improving” is paramount here. Squad players are not what’s needed at present; players to fit straight into the first team and Advocaat’s way of playing are required. The names linked to Sunderland would certainly be ideal. The likes of Jermaine Lens, Virgil Van Dijk, Stuart Downing, Jordy Clasie, etc, would all go straight into the first team and would be very good acquisitions.
Will these names be at the Stadium of Light come the start of the season? Are these players even on the club’s radar? Apart from a select view within the club, who knows? The start of the season is now only weeks away and, with the transfer window now officially open, it’s going to be an interesting summer for Sunderland and their supporters.