At some stage I shall get really worried about the level at which our actual or suspected targets have been playing their football.
For now, it being early July, I prefer to remain upbeat. I cling to the belief that Roy Keane et al know what they are doing, have found gems in the Football League and Scotland and will one day soon land a couple of bigger fishes.
What of those who have eluded our line and hook?
David Nugent, so a Preston fan tells me, chose the unusual forum of a chance nightclub conversation to announce that he would be signing for Portsmouth tomorrow (Monday).
We’ll know soon enough about that. And I have not forgotten the views of those SAFC fans who said our failure to get him was really no great loss. My PNE man naturally thinks otherwise, though he admits that Nugent is the sort of player that “needs someone else alongside him” if he is to score a lot of goals.
But what interested me more was the player’s reported response when, in the same snatched nigthclub chat, he was asked what had gone wrong with the Sunderland approach.
“Roy Keane wanted me to sign there and then,” he supposedly replied.
Interpret those words. He meant:
1) I was hoping to use SAFC’s bid to coax my cherished Everton into coming for me
2) I wanted to use SAFC’s bid to encourage someone else to come and offer a better pay deal
3) I don’t actually fancy living in the North East
4) I wasn’t sure that I didn’t want to stay at Preston and help get them up next season
And I am sure there are other possible explanations.
But taking those four, we can almost certainly exclude 4). And 3); no one willing to move to Portsmouth can seriously harbour ill-feeling towards the North East.
My informant describes Nugent as a good, down-to-earth sort of man. So let’s be charitable and discount 2) as well.
That leaves the Toffees. And they didn’t think he merited an approach.
Well that clinches it for me. My ambitions for Sunderland do not stop at wanting us to be as good as Everton. If David Nugent – subject to some late bid from Goodison – is not good enough for them, he certainly isn’t good enough for us.