The highs (Ndong, Denayer, Manquillo) and lows (M’Vila) of Sunderland’s transfer window

... by Jake
… by Jake

With two tweets as the transfer window slammed shut, the sensible and always engaging BBC Radio Newcastle commentator on Sunderland games, Nick Barnes, summed up the frustrations of all those who support the club.

We can and should applaud the late acquisitions of Didier Ndong (he seems to prefer Ibrahim as his given name and Wikipedia awards him an apostrophe but we will go with the SAFC version for now) and, if regrettably another as on-loan signing, Jason Denayer.

But the £5.5m spent earlier on a pair of Manchester United reserves, who may yet prove worth their weight in gold, seems rash compared with the club’s steadfast refusal to reach a deal with Rubin Kuzan to bring Yann M’Vila back permanently to Wearside.

Not back on Wearside - yet
Not back on Wearside – yet

M’Vila had flown to England, apparently to be present if a last-minute agreement was reached, and – unless his Instagram account has been hacked or is not his at all but a spoof – showed deep, even bitter disappointment at the outcome.

There is talk of a preliminary deal having been reached for him to join in January, when one of the finest midfielders seen in Sunderland colours for many years, will be out of contract. But not all of us will feel reassured by that, not least if the player’s attachment to the club has genuinely been weakened by deadline-day events. A firm club statement this morning would be helpful.

David Moyes is blameless for the appallingly late start to transfer activity and few of us will ever forgive the FA for the unjust and indefensible delay in sorting out Big Sam’s appointment.

But the fact is that he went into the last straight of the window needing not only to strengthen the defence and midfield but he also needed a striker and, following Vito Mannone’s injury, a keeper. Neither materialised, leaving him to scratch around – if an emergency arises – for anyone out there who may be a free agent and therefore still eligible to be recruited.

Losing Younes Kaboul was undoubtedly a severe blow and the circumstances have not been adequately explained. But let us welcome the acquisitions Moyes has been able to make – and crucially, the club’s commendable stand on Lamine Koné, denying his move to Everton. With Papy Djilobodji he could now – assuming he remains professional about his work – forge another robust pairing.

Around them, we’ll have Javier Manquillo, Jason Denayer and Patrick van Aanholt, with Ndong ahead in defensive midfield and with any luck on injury problems, Jan Kirchhoff back to provide creativity and composure. Moyes then has all sorts of midfield options provided by Seb Larsson and Lee Cattermole when fit and yes, Donald Love and Paddy McNair as switchable from defence to more central roles.

There is central defence and fullback cover from John O’Shea and Billy Jones and yet more midfield candidates in Jack Rodwell (a promising start so apologies for omitting him from the original post) Steve Pienaar and Lynden Gooch.

With only Jermain Defoe as an out-and-out high-scoring striker (and “only” feels the wrong word for a man of such ability and success), there will then be enormous pressure on whoever Moyes chooses between Khazri, Borini, Watmore and Januzaj to add goals from attacking midfield (or as strikers when Defoe, 34 next month, is out). Unless, that is, young Joel Asoro develops as an attacker quicker than I feel is reasonable to expect.

Anyone fancy putting together their preferred lineups from what we’ve ended up with?

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M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake
M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

36 thoughts on “The highs (Ndong, Denayer, Manquillo) and lows (M’Vila) of Sunderland’s transfer window”

  1. Anichebe will give us something we didnt previously have up front.strength, size and general physical robustness . However I feel Bendtner would have been a better choice , I thought he did well for us when here . Bendtner had size , skill and a few goals in his locker and is unfairly mocked in my view , Altidore he is not . Anyway , if we get a keeper in its starting to look like an acceptable transfer window , M’villa farce aside .

  2. Well at least it’s another body in. I think Osoro will be useful but he’s probably not ready to lead the line every game if Defoe gets injured. Will Anichebe bring more to the squad than Altidore, Graham or N’Doye? We’ll soon find out.

    I actually thought N’Doye had a decent game at Watford when JD was rested and maybe, knowing how difficult it is to get decent strikers in, it might not have been too bad an option to offer him a contract. Understandable though that the club would look for better alternatives.

    Bony would have been a great loan signing for us but had he come to us rather than Stoke we couldn’t have signed Denayer on loan. Same with Hart. I believe we can only have two domestic loan players, though more from abroad.

    As for Ryan Noble – he is currently playing for Easington Colliery in the Northern League Division 2. He was probably unlucky with injury during his time at Sunderland and with the other league clubs he played for but it’s unlikely he would have set the Premier League on fire.

  3. Well apparently we have signed Victor Anichebe. I think in another life he was called Jozy Altidore and before that Emile Heskey. But, he may well be useful given that Moyes has used him to some effect in the past. Personally, I would give Joel Asoro a chance. But, then, a few years ago we were light on strikers, and I was all for Ryan Noble getting in, and well, who knows, he may have had a brighter future, if he had been given a chance.

    • Anichebe’s strengths are his ability to hold up the ball, and bring other players in. I think this could be useful to Sunderland. We don’t have anyone like him, and Players like Januazj, Watmore and Borini could well benefit, because I don’t think they will score many on their own.

  4. Keeper and striker repalacements failure will cause us problems,so another relegation battle beckons.

    Nice to see a player playing “I want to leave” card not succeeding this time,we always seem to fall foul of that in the past.Will his heart be in for the fight one wonders?

  5. I am more bothered about the lack of a recognised second striker than the situation around M’Vila. I think we are pretty well covered in midfield, and in truth, I was not over impressed with M’Vila – okay, but not someone I’d get excited about.

    Up front is critical. In the end, it is goals that win matches, and they are difficult to come by in the PL. Defoe in his present form is awesome, but he is 33 and not a particularly physical player, and we will struggle for goals if he gets side lined. I now understand that Borini is out for three months, so he is not an option.

    That leaves Watmore, or maybe Januzaj [ or one of the kids. I think we should pull out the stops for an out of contract CF.

  6. A knowledgeable friend in France – Marseille fan – just said: “Ngone – a bit clumsy (hence all the cards) and 16m euros somewhat excessive… but yes a good player “

  7. If the lack of communication between the club and M’Vila was as reported (here and elsewhere), how was this alleged “pre-contract” organised? I mean…literally….how did it happen?

  8. Aficon will mean we will lose Khazri, Papy, Kone and N’dong this could cause big problems. Mark Schwartzer and Bendtner are free agents could be an option. Either way when all are fit there will be competition for places. Just hope we haven’t miffed M’Vila. We will need him. What happened to Pogba?

  9. Ndong has to serve the second of a 2 match suspension so can’t play v Everton. I have also heard that Borini’s injury (from taking a free kick!) may be quite serious and he could be out for a while.
    As for Mvila, his posting on Instagram suggests that the club have not treated him well. Answering a phone call is the least they should have done. From his earlier postings it is clear that someone (agent, Rubin or us) led him to believe that a deal was imminent and then the deal wasn’t done. We all knew from early in the day that he thought a deal was happening. Either the club was working on this or they weren’t.
    If they were, and Rubin refused to budge even when it became clear that they were about to get nothing (and have to pay him over 1.6 million in salary for the next 4 months) then come out and say so. I can understand the decision not to pay that, even if I don’t agree with it and would have paid 7 mill for him over 5.5 for Love and McNair any day of the week.
    If they weren’t working on a deal for him then surely someone could have spared 5 minutes to ring him and explain what was happening, not least to keep him on-side for January.
    Unless we have a cast-iron pre-contract agreement for January, I suspect that yesterday’s poor communications are going to cost us a really important player, as well as potentially losing other recruits if word goes around that we can’t be trusted (fair or not).

    • Don’t quite understand why M’Vila waited for a phone call in London. Why not just stay at home. He had signed a pre aggreement so must have been aware there was little chance of thr deal going through. Something doesn’t add up.

      • Perhaps he hoped to have to pass his medical and then physically sign something? Then again maybe he had a ticket to The Great British Bake Off.

  10. Someone at the Facebook group said Ndong is suspended for the Everton game (red card in last game for Lorient). A French match report said Didier Ndong had impressed as one of Ligue 1’s safest players in his midfield position but had also gained a reputation as player whose “engagement” was sometimes “at the limit”, though in this sense the phrase meant beyond the limit

  11. Vito, Manquillo, Kone, Djilibodji, PvA, Kirchhoff, Cattermole, Ndong, Januzaj, Borini, Defoe.

    Catts I’d have in for his ability to motivate those around him in a scrap.

    Bench: Pickford, Jones, O’Shea, Denayer, Khazri, Watmore, Pienaar.

    If anyone unavailable I’d promote from the bench. If Defoe couldn’t play I’d give Gooch a try in his position for the last 20 minutes of a match. He did OK there for the development squad.

  12. Excuse my inexperience or lack of knowledge on this but I thought I club wasn’t allowed to directly speak to a player in any capacity unless a deal it stuck between the two clubs? His current club wont £7 million which SAFC wont agree to, so surely M’Villa shouldn’t be trying to contact us as charges would be brought and run the risk off transfer bans.

    • I think I’m correct in saying that a player, or his representative/s, is/are entitled to discuss his future employment (and agree/sign a pre contract) in the final 6 months of his existing contract, without any such discussions having to be sanctioned by his present club.

  13. Keeping Kone was essential and you just have to think luck will change for the better as regards injuries. Who knows if it had been a good transfer window. The consenus is that Sunderland had a great January but how many of us knew that at the time?

    • Does the fact he refused an improved contract mean he won’t get an improved deal? The man management skills of Bain and Moyes could be seriously tested now. Kone probably needs to put in more top performances to get the fans back onside. Next match Everton. Could be interesting.

    • I wouldn’t have Rodwell in the stadium. 26 games no wins. Come on Michael, Khazri, Watmore, Kirch or Cattermole before JR.

      • A bit harsh, perhaps.

        Sir Kevin’s first season began inauspiciously and it took him a while to get into his stride; King Charlie suffered 7-0 and 6-0 defeats and took 120 games to score; Jimmy McNab only scored a handful of goals throughout his time with us.

        We often come to revere players later in their careers and
        I don’t think Rodwell can be blamed for failures to win any of the games in which he has played. Give him a chance in a settled team first

  14. I’ll wait and see regarding new players before I decide if they will make us stronger – I’ve been caught out before when potentially big players turn out to be duds. I’m hoping the new lads will be more Kirchhoff, Khazri and Kone than Scocco, Roberge and Alvarez.

    Can’t help but feel that as M’Vila has not been named in the Rubin Kazan squad for the new season the club is waiting for them to officially release him so we can pick him up as a free agent but what message does that send out to the player about how they value him? I don’t expect to see him back in red and white now, more’s the pity and even if he did come (in or before January) he won’t be at full fitness.

    As long as Pickford doesn’t get injured himself I think we’ll be OK with him in goal and Stryjek on the bench. The problem will come if he gets hurt or is ill before Vito is back to full fitness.

    Up front time for Borini to make a name for himself in what he says is his preferred position – or perhaps do a Dave Watson with Lamine Kone and convert him to a CF 🙂 .

    • I think I’m right in saying (could be wrong) that even if Rubin Kazan agreed to release him from his contract today he wouldn’t be allowed to sign for another team before the next transfer window opens.

      This would be because his registration wouldn’t have been cancelled before the last one closed.

      What I’m now left to hope for is that that someone (SAFC, M’Vila, or his agent) confirms that we do, indeed, have a pre-contract in place for January.

      If not then the whole episode will be shown to have been a shambles – no more, no less!.

      • I hope that’s not the case Phil. I was thinking it might be brinkmanship by the new CEO and that RK would step back from its £7m demand at the last moment.

        If what you say is correct there appears to be little point in M’vila buying out his contract (26 weeks at £100k pw) which is a lot less than £7m.

        If the lad has signed a Jan pre-contract with SAFC he’s very much in limbo.

        I know it was busy yesterday but I hope the club treated him properly.


        What if, to counteract the drop in M’Vila’s reported £100k per week wages, there existed a deal where he would receive any money saved on a transfer fee in a signing on fee, which would then allow him to fall within our wage structure?

        That could explain the “difficulties” in negotiating with RK – especially if they were aware of that arrangement, irrespective of the fee was that they were demanding (£5m, £7m, whatever)!

        As I said, I am NOT ITK, but only putting forward a theory.

        However, IF my thoughts are correct, it would reinforce my earlier comment regarding a statement being needed, that such a watertight pre contract exists, prior to it becoming a “free for all” in January.

    • The move of converting Kone into a a target man may well work. He looks pretty awesome in opponents’s penalty box last season. Fearsome headers and has some poaching instinct in him. A suggestion that Moyes should give some consideration now that they have Denayer to partner Djiloboji in the center.Dd

  15. I wasn’t expecting M’Vila back. I don’t know why but the feeling’s been there for a while that we wouldn’t get him this window. And now I don’t know if we’ll get him at all.

    It didn’t, and doesn’t, help that the club, as ever, is hopeless at communicating with fans. I appreciate SAFC does not discuss transfers and think that’s much better than encouraging speculation but the whole failure to communicate goes much deeper.

    I. for one, would like a full account of what went on in the last 48 hours of the window, especially with regard to M’Vila, a striker and a keeper.

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