Gyan: not the money man?

A last outing for Addick-tedKevin's image?

In his latest guest posting, Eric Sweeney reflects on the depressing saga of Asamoah Gyan’s loan transfer and concludes that Sunderland may be better off avoiding overseas prima donnas who see us as a mixture of cash cow and stepping stone. It is probably stretching things to suggest greed is confined to foreign players. But Eric knows his mind and there was neither a “not” nor a question mark in the headline when it left his keyboard …

Ghana for a short time had become Sunderland’s second home in Africa.

John Mensah, the Rock of Gibraltar, came to the club and was arguably our best player: big, strong and composed but also, unfortunately, injury prone.

There was no way the club could sign him permanently despite his great performances and popularity in the dressing room. The fee was simply too high and the risk too large.

That said, I was delighted the club was able to secure his services for a second season and that move that played its part in securing Asamoah Gyan’s signature.

What transpired was a complete con. The love affair with Ghana was to be tested and eventually ended. Mensah’s performances waned and his fitness issues continued while Gyan was on “bedding in” time meaning he was allowed to play poorly with a ready excuse.

Mensah wasn’t signed as many predicted. I don’t even recall any speculation about a possible transfer such was the supporters’ recognition of the reality.

Gyan was now Sunderland’s only Ghanaian and bedding time was over.

I was never happy with him as a player, my only fond memory of him concerning a single game, against Blackpool, where he played a great pass to Richardson for a superb goal. This was also the first game after Bent which made it all the more special.

His workrate was always poor. If he received the ball deep he seemed more interested in losing it quickly in order to avoid effort! All his talk was about his own goal tally and never about the team. In his last game for the club this was evident where he could have squared the ball to Wickham for a tap-in or try himself – speculatively – for the top corner. No prizes for guessing what happened.

The truth is he came to Sunderland simply for the money and the exposure.

Idolised like a God in his native country he has supreme belief in his ability. Anyone who saw Ghana play England at Wembly would understand why as he was the best player on the park by a distance. But Sunderland were never even given a glimpse of that effort and potential and that is what makes me bitter.

It was clear to me from the beginning that he viewed Sunderland as a short term move. One season, bang in a few goals, prove his abilty and get a move to the big four in England or two in Spain.

His agents were trying each week to stir up interest. Although his ability was not in question, his attitude was. And that, I believe, is why he didn’t get his desired move, leaving him with two options, Sunderland or UAE.

I had hoped his failed moves would prove an incentive to come back to SAFC, work hard and earn a move the following season but this isn’t what transpired. UAE and Al Ain was about one thing: money. And as a second tier Premiership team after the big four, the danger is that we will attract this type of player again.

But we have a more British feel to the squad this year and I think we have to go that way in the future. Foreign players don’t know Sunderland. They don’t respect their fans, traditions, rivalries and passion for the game. Liverpool changed from a foreign dominated squad under Rafa to a British one under Kenny and there is already sign of improvement.

I hope we go the Liverpool way and give our talent a chance to shine and leave money-grabbing foreign players where they belong, which may be the UAE but it not Sunderland …

8 thoughts on “Gyan: not the money man?”

  1. Regarding Henderson and Gyan, Joan. I would have to say that regardless of our misgivings about Gyan, he was altogether more effective in his short period with us than Henderson was. As Hilary says he may turn into something special, but I am far less convinced of this than the majority. There is precious little difference between them in their haste to get out as soon as someone was interested. For me losing Henderson was more of an “emotional” blow simply because he was from Sunderland and had been with the club since the age of 9. I thought that may mean something to him, but apparently not. As far as Gyan goes there was never any doubt in my mind that he would prostitute himself sooner rather than later. For a considerable part of last season Henderson stunk the ground out with his performances, and for months on end the majority of fans were crying out for him to be dropped.

    I tend to agree with you Hilary regarding Bruce’s man management in terms of the complete absence of any. His resistance when other suitors seems to be “Oh, really alright them. You can have him!”

  2. I think there’s a world of difference between the way that Henderson left and the way Gyan left; and the way they played before that – Henderson always to the best of his ability, whereas Gyan at times just didn’t appear to be trying. The club got a very good fee for Henderson, and I think the vast majority of Sunderland supporters would wish him well. We can hardly say the same about Gyan. It was his lack of commitment both on and off the pitch while still playing for us that turned people against him.

  3. Just to add to my last post. I do realise that Henderson was restless and his attitude problematic. However I go back to the issue of the manager. How much is he responsible for player’s attitudes and behaviour? Obvoiously in the modern game it is difficult to manage inflated egos and deal with the power of agents. I agree about Gyan and the ‘bright lights and I think that the outcome was inevitable there and no doubt Henderson’s head had been turned, but it concerns me that we are leaking good and potentially good players. If we want to be a consistently successful club we need to attract and keep good quality players. I hope we can do this, but I still fear that Bruce is not the best man manager in the League and this is part of the problem.

  4. Jeremy, I do agree that Henderson wasn’t yet the full package, and Liverpool paid well over the odds for him on his current form. However, I do think that he has the potential to mature into a very good player and that part of the process of bringing young players through the system is to nurture them and to accept that it takes time for them to fulfill their potential.

  5. Yeah Jeremy – but at least he agreed to sign young Billy’s shirt. The 0.3 pence the ink will cost, considering his 400,000k per week salary, represents total redemption in my eyes.

  6. I have to respond to Hilary’s comment re Henderson. I was one of those that really couldn’t see the big deal about him. Watching him today against Wolves the Anfield faithful must think that we saw them coming taking 20M off their hands for a player who was pedestrian at best and anonymous at worst.

    As for Gyan I think Eric hits the nail on the head with this article. The presence of the fellow Ghanains made his existence on Wearside “tolerable” until a better offer came in. Gyan looked a promising youngster in the WC and no more than that. Certainly not worth anything like the 13M we paid for him. Whilst it is true to say that there are countless foreigners who have come to play in the PL there are a host of different attitudes that come with it. Some are likely to be far more knowledgable and prepared to adapt to the culture of big city life but not to a the different world in the “provinces.” Most don’t stay for too long unless they are at Liverpool or Man Utd etc, and that is just something we either live with, or alternatively we take a different long term view.

    When it comes to motivation, loyalty and commitment etc I would like to pose the following question.

    Gyan has made himself a hate figure recently. What fundamental difference is there between him and Henderson?

  7. Eric may be right about Gyan, but I agree with Joan that there are very good and reliable foreign players, not only at Sunderland, but throughout the British game. The ideal balance is to develop our own talent at the club and buy players who are found to be talented and committed from where we can. I was saddened by our selling Henderson. Ferguson wouldn’t have sold home grown talent like that He may have lent him out to gain experience as he has done with Welbeck and many others. Gyan was a mistake, but there are many British players whose behaviour on and off the field is reprehensible. The club needs to make properly informed decisions before buying players and hang on to and support good players who are coming through our own system.

  8. I can’t disagree with Eric about Gyan. Going on at every opportunity about how flattered he was to be linked with other clubs, not being bothered on the pitch, walking out after deadline day etc etc. If he is ‘back in Sunderland soon’ (if only to ‘pick up his stuff’ as Simon Pryde suggested) he should be booed out. But we can’t say that about all foreign players. Look no further than Sessegnon – Sunderland would be much poorer without him.

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