Worried about Arsenal? Of course not. All will fit into place …

One week to go and it’s Arsenal away. Olivier Giroud scored a lot of goals in France last season and will be keen to get off to a great Premier start. It’s anyone’s guess where our goalscoring options may come from …

First of all,
bravo Jake, our loyal graphics wizard who sends such wonderful images from afar (Spanish exile), for the above clip which suddenly appeared at the Salut! Sunderland Facebook group (click here if you fancy joining).

Second, are you sitting comfortably after hearing about or, worse, seeing the 1-0 defeat at mighty Leicester City in the last of a warm-up for the new Premier League season that can, with great charity, be described as unpromising?

“Just got back from Leicester,” said someone at the Blackcats list. “As things stand, we will be relegated.”

To be fair, the writer of those words, though an astute observer of football and well versed in the ups and downs of SAFC, is not best known for his optimistic outlook. But Sixer was at it as well, albeit from an absentee’s perspective: “Awful by all accounts. Shildon won 6-0 at Whitehaven. I made the right choice of match.”

What should we really read into the succession of disappointing pre-season games in which defending has at times been slow and sloppy, midfield has lacked creativity and goals have been in short supply? And how worried should we be that the squad for the Leicester game was as follows …

Westwood, Gardner, O’Shea (Egan, 75), Kilgallon (Meyler,46), Bramble (Cuellar, 46), Cattermole (Knott, 80), Elmohamady (Larsson, 46), Colback, Campbell (Noble, 75), Richardson (Adams, 75), McClean.
Subs Not Used: Mignolet.

… all about fitness and getting everyone involved at some stage?

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The harsher view is that with seven days to go before we face Arsenal away, the line-up was a disturbing indication of how little Premier-standard talent Martin O’Neill had at his disposal. Other first-team players are injured but, for as long as they are in that state, it hardly offers grounds for reassurance.

Sunderland fans should have no problem with a manager who plays his cards close to his chest when it comes to transfer talk.

But he, the owner and every dog that has ever stopped at a lamppost along Roker Baths Road know full well that supporters have so far been given not the remotest reason to believe that this is a team – unless much strengthened in the time that is left – that can seriously mount a challenge for the top 10, let alone a European place. They also know, or should know, the importance of public relations.

The on-off Fletcher deal would be seen by most thinking SAFC supporters as no more than start. But if it is still there to be clinched, if we were informed that Sess was going nowhere and if one or two other important signings could be considered a given, morale would instantly soar.

And no one, not even contributors to Blackcats, should be unduly pessimistic before a season even gets under way. MoN, surely, knows what he is doing and has significant announcements in the pipeline.

But after decades of massive disappointment, SAFC supporters are entitled to be concerned – even if they also hope with all their hearts that there is a master plan, so far undisclosed, that will make their downbeat outlook seem absurd a month from now.

Monsieur Salut, by Matt

15 thoughts on “Worried about Arsenal? Of course not. All will fit into place …”

  1. Sorry to mention this but my mate swears blind he has been told nothing will happen until van persie goes to man utd as a deal has been done with sess going to arsenal he swears its true and about a month ago told me that sess woul not play in pre season- i hope he is wrong but i am seriously concerned, anybody else heard this?

  2. He has already offered Wickham to them Salut. They declined our kind offer.

    As Tom says above it isn’t just about Fletcher, and as I said earlier it’s also about the other TWO strikers we need in addition to him.

    His activity, or lack of it is a worry and I wonder what is going on behind the scenes which is causing this hiatus. Money has come in for Gyan and Turner so there should be money to spend.

  3. I am not so sure Fletcher will sign guys. Wolves are knocking back bids from other clubs too for the likes of Javis etc. They don’t seem to be desperate for cash. And they want a bounce back promotion next year too and they can’t do that if they sell their good players. They just might not sell, unless they get sill money.

    • They could well be trying to show the fans that they tried everything to avoid selling them. I would be surprised if he didn’t sign. Frazier Campbell is potentially one more mediocre performance away from being an addition to any cash offer.

  4. I remain convinced Fletcher will sign, as will McGeady or another RW. May be a couple weeks into the season, however.

    The thing is, a centre forward who holds and finishes would change the whole dynamics of our side. When Newcastle got rid of Barton, Nolan and Enrique, it was predicted that their previous finish of 11th couldn’t be bettered. All of a sudden Cabaye and Ba were added and they finished 5th. I’m not suggesting that’s going to happen but it’s clear that once a focal point to the current side is added, we will be considerably better. We have appeared to play the system without the forward and let’s just have hope that it will click.

  5. It’s not all about the time its taking to sign Fletcher. What about the pacey right winger, the left back [and a right back?] , the midfield play-maker, another two strikers…??
    Because of O’Neill’s renowned intelligence I am hoping that what comes in by August 31st will have been worth the current agonising wait that we’re all going through. The one argument in Bruce’s favour was that his net spend was small [although he had to go for several valid reasons] and SAFC have to realise that if they are deadly serious about ultimately competing at top eight level, then they need to accept the need to break the current wage structure. Additionally, they have received a great deal of money for Bent, Henderson and Gyan that has not been reinvested as such, and have removed high wage earners like McCartney and Gordon off the wage bill, so if they want to start filling the stadium, restore belief and create a genuine buzz around the club that will entice more season card holders, then some visionary transfer market action is needed. They must know that. There have been lots of improvements behind the scenes at what is a professionally run club at long last, but results and some entertainment on the pitch is key to everything. End of.

  6. Plan B. The issue for me over the Fletcher saga is that we didn’t bid in Jan because O”Neill thinks that window inflates fees and the buying club is held to ransom.

    I’d like him to explain how that situation differs from what;s going on right now.

    • Quite right, there’s nothing stopping us testing the water early doors. Like I say I’m sure we’ll sign some players and forget this whole pre-season, but you wonder what Mr Short makes of our policy;
      Waiting til August to lodge official bids just doesn’t help matters.

  7. The transfer window system seems to encourage a cat and mouse mentality when clubs with players in demand are approached by clubs who obviously need players. Who else has offered money for Fletcher?

    Obviously I am not privy to the behind the scenes dealings but I suspect that as the deadline approaches Wolves will be thinking Sunderland may be more likely to panic and pay silly money and Sunderland will be thinking that Wolves will be more likely to accept a decent offer rather than reject a sizeable fee.

    It’s a huge game of “Call My Bluff”. This time last year I was excited by the signings we had made. We appeared to be in a much better position than the previous year when Waghorn and Bent were our strike force, but we all know what happened last year. I can’t say I am optimistic about the new season but I am trying to be phlegmatic and adopt a wait and see approach.

  8. Desperate signings in the past have included Torre Andre Flo, Andy Gray and El Hadj Diouf.
    Hopefully MON will be adopting a long term view and will not panic as others have.
    Perhaps he could sign Mo Farrah and the horse that won the dressage. Its footwork was neater than Craig Gardner’s.

  9. We’ve all been here before (too many times) biting our fingernails waiting for the signings to roll in…….wait……….wait ………………..wait.

    I am sure that behind the scenes SAFC have been working like Trojans to get the key players that are required for this season.

    We all know what needs to be done, they all know what needs to be done, MON definitely knows what needs to be done, in him we trust. But it is bloody frustrating the apparent lack of progress, given an extra frission by a poor results wise pre season menu..

    Keep the faith and lets hope to a glut of quality arriving next week.

  10. The question is Ian, why have they allowed this situation to persist to the point of frustration? We’ve been 2 or even three forwards short for as long as we can remember. There isn’t a striker on the books who would get into another top flight team. That is worrying.

    • I’m with Jeremy. I’m certain we’ll bring a couple in, but why didn’t we bid for Fletcher 2 months ago?

  11. This is the crux of the matter: our goalscoring options. We’ve hit a brick wall with Fletcher. He’s not worth more than £12m. And Defoe will not want to move from his comfort in London (unless he is serious for playing time and impressing Roy H).
    So, we’re stuck. Starting with Sess, who is shaking off an injury and the more injury prone Campbell does not fill me with confidence.
    We have the ageing Saha who seems half interested, but we’re looking a bit desperate now. We actually would do well with a big target man who can be hit by McClean and Laarson. I would have liked to see Lukaku loaned to us. Arghh, we need someone quick. I’m probably as frustrated as the safc transfer team. :s

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