With all the, um, excitement of Brazil 2014, we have perhaps overlooked the pleasant duty of welcoming the three players already recruited to the cause of Sunderland AFC.
The incoming trio are Billy Jones, a defender signed from West Bromwich, midfielder Jordi Gomez from Wigan and goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, arriving as a free agent – as were the others – after his spell at Manchester City that included last season’s Premier League championship campaign.
We’ll get to Pantimilon – he’s the big one, all 6′ 8” of him, pictured with young Robert March – soon enough.
But this is what Pete Sixsmith had to say here about Jones:
A man with a throwback name and haircut to match. Unlike some of last season’s signings, he should not experience a huge culture shock in moving from the West Midlands to the North East. What must it have been like for some of the European players from this time last year swopping Switzerland for Seaburn and Madeira for Monkwearmouth? West Brom for West Boldon seems quite straightforward.
He was also upbeat about the Gomez singing. And Stuart Weir, at Salut! Sunderland’s Facebook group, had this to say, answering the question “is he the calibre of players we should be looking at to take us forward?”:
Absolutely. Smart player, greater passer, eye for goal and costs nothing. Great addition to the squad.
And now Pantimilon.
The photo arrived in the electronic post from Nick March, with whom Monsieur Salut worked when in Abu Dhabi. Nick, as you may have guessed supports Man City. Before one of our customary 1-0 home wins, he did a grand job of “Who are You?”: https://safc.blog/2010/08/the-view-from-abu-dhabi-manchester-city-champions-elect/
Let Nick explains the photo: “Robert’s our seven-year-old younger son. He trains at the Man City School of Football (Abu Dhabi branch) three times a week.
“The pic was taken during the trip City made to the UAE days after they’d won the championship last month (the trip when Yaya got a little bit upset about birthday cakes). The players were over here to play a friendly in Al Ain, but also did several public appearances too. The pic was taken at a signing session also attended by Javi Garcia, Martin Demichelis and Dedryck Boyata. As you can see from the picture Robert was really pleased to meet one of his heroes. We always thought Pantilimon was a bit hard done by at City and wish him all the best at the Stadium of Light.
“My little boy was quite a fan of the Romanian fella. I haven’t broken the news to him yet.”
SAFC’s sporting director Lee Congerton said of the three signings:
* Billy is an established Barclays Premier League player … offensively-minded but can defend as well. [Let’s hope he] Billy can keep himself injury-free, get a good run in the team and be a part of the reason why we’re successful next season.
* Jordi was a player we admired – he is our “number 10” signing if you like. He can see a pass, score a goal and handles the ball well.
* On Costel: “Goalkeeper is such an important position. Vito Mannone had an excellent season last year and we’re very happy with him, but we needed another goalkeeper. Costel is a great age and is hungry to play. Goalkeepers come into their prime a bit later on as they get more experience and he’s probably not played as many games as he’d like.”
Now over to the new boys to show us why Congerton and Gus Poyet wanted to recruit them.
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