For Metro, it was the signing of the summer, or at least Dick Advocaat’s summer.
Then you look to see which foreign star has been lured to the Stadium of Light and realise they meant the new six-year contract for Lee Cattermole. To be fair, the Metro piece was one of its club-by-club blog postings and the writer, Gary Johnson, is one of us.
And he is right. The close-season progress may seem leisurely, but it is progress. Tying Cattermole to Sunderland until 2021 is a good move. It means that even if Roy Hodgson suddenly woke up and did what he’d have done already, if only Catts played in London or the North West, our tenacious midfielder would be a very valuable asset should another club come sniffing.
Our hope, of course, is that he is now a Sunderland player for the rest of his career and continues to show the sort of form we saw in most of his games last season and the one before.
The return of Sebastian Coates, this time as a full employee and not on loan, is also good news. He had a poor start to his season-long loan from Liverpool, turning out little until December but he grew in stature the fitter be became and the more he played. I see him slotting more and more in Advocaat’s central defence as age catches up with John O’Shea and Wes Brown.
This is how the club site puts it:
Sunderland have completed the signing of Uruguayan international defender Sebastian Coates on a permanent transfer from Liverpool. Coates, who spent the 2014-15 season on loan at the Stadium of Light, joins the club on a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee [Undisclosed my foot. Everyone seems agreed it’s around £2m – Ed].
The South American, 24, played a key role in Dick Advocaat’s nine games in charge at the end of last season, helping Sunderland achieve a haul of nine points and three clean sheets.
Sporting director Lee Congerton said: ‘Sebastian was an important part of the team under Dick last season and we are delighted that he has joined us on a permanent basis. He has Barclays Premier League experience, which is important and, after spending last season on loan with us, he will be able to settle into the team very quickly.’
Advocaat was glowing in his appraisal of Catts. “Lee is the controller of the side,” the Chronicle quotes the boss as saying. “He is a motivator, a leader and central to the success of our team. To know that he will be with us for many years to come is very important to the club.”
A decent start, then, provided it’s followed – as I am sure it will be – by some proper new signings. We’ve all seen the speculation, including Nicolas Lombaerts from Russian side Zenit St Petersburg; Werder Bremen’s Argentine striker Franco di Santo and Chelsea’s Dutch midfielder Marco van Ginkel on loan. Plus lots more, some undoubtedly invented, some genuine.
Let’s now see it turned into actual business.