Pete Sixsmith’s doleful report from the Wear/Tyne derby game is on its way, but first things first. We’ve welcomed Asamoah Gyan. And as we look forward to potentially exciting times, let us now wish our departing Shields lad Martyn Waghorn every success at Leicester – maybe he’ll come back as a record £14m signing after banging in 30 goals for them – …
The Mackem diaspora is split into two camps this morning, one much bigger than the other.
In one huge corner, we find the vast majority of Sunderland fans who are excited by the record £13m signing of Asamoah Gyan from Rennes, giving us a £23m strike force when you add Steve Bruce’s last record signing for the club, that of Darren Bent.
And in the little corner over there stand the malcontents who fear we have paid well over the odds for a relatively unproven player and that it could therefore all end in tears.
Deal with the doubters first of all. Yes, £13m is a great whack of money for someone whose goalscoring record in the French Ligue 1 (14 in 53 games) is hardly startling and who now has to adapt to the stronger, quicker and altogether more demanding environment of the Premier.
But he was undoubtedly one of the strikers of the 2010 World Cup. Forget the penalty and remember that he scored three goals in the competition – three more than that bloke called Rooney, two more than Defoe – and generally proved himself a handful.
The Bent-Gyan combination, given a decent run free of injuries or suspensions, is a thrilling prospect. For the first time since Quinn/Phillips, we will have a strike pairing to put serious fear into the heart of all Premier defences.
Spare a thought for Martyn Waghorn and Fraizer Campbell.
Supporters would have loved to see a Sunderland fan from South Shields make it at our place, and Waghorn doubtless wanted it too. But the £3m from Leicester competes with the £13m from us for Gyan in the eyebrow-raising stakes, and is therefore canny business. Salut! Sunderland hopes he scores a hatful for City and develops into a player capable of walking back into most Premier League sides.
As for Campbell, fans are still divided on how good he is. But the fact remains that he was comfortably our most improved player towards the end of last season and had the liveliest of pre-seasons. His long-term injury is a massive blow for him and we hope he can make a full and strong recovery.
We also wish well to Teemu Tainio, who has left by mutual consent. He was a solid if unremarkable midfielder and never let us down.
Perhaps the passing of transfer deadline day leaves us scratching our heads about the continued presence of a few players who needed, for their sakes and ours, to move on. I see no future role at Sunderland for David Healy and only limited ones for George McCartney and, – sadly, because I’m a fan – Andy Reid. There is still time for loans, but only out of the Premier which may not suit all of them.
One last thought: if you want a bit of fun, look back at some of the players we were confidently linked with, the bids we were lining up, swoops about to be made, players about to leave – you can do it by clicking on the newsnow.co.uk link to the right – and then remember that by 6pm yesterday we’d signed one player, sold another and ended the contract of a third.
And the same will go for other clubs. Look carefully to see where, after all that speculation (it was never a question of whether he was going, just to whom he was going), one Charles N’Zogbia will be collecting his September pay cheque. Wigan Athletic.