Salut! Sunderland is famously cautious about transfer speculation. Sometimes, there is no need for caution and absolutely no need to wait for the club’s traditional dawdle towards making a proper announcement.
With Simon Mignolet, the writing was on the wall from the moment the season finished, if not earlier, and we felt perfectly able to comment on his likely departure. His agent did make some ambiguous comments that seemed at odds with the truth, long after Liverpool had quite obviously begun the process of securing our keeper’s services. But then his agent has form, as indeed do most agents. What Is An Agent For? might make a good title for a Lower Sixth essay.
And now he’s gone, with the best wishes of most of us. While we wait for some truly exciting transfer news of the inward variety, thoughts turn to the next stops in the careers of Sess and Catts. I will be bitterly disappointed to see the former leave, since I welcome wholeheartedly in our colours anyone who plays with such levels of natural ability and acquired technique. Catts? Couldn’t care less, for all that he has his advocates on Salut! Sunderland.
Here is a taste of how I sum up my feelings at ESPN. Go to http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/1727?cc=5739 for the full article ..
[Mignolet’s] sensational saves last season made the difference, ultimately more so than Steven Fletcher’s pre-injury goals, between Premier League survival and a shameful drop to the Championship. I would love to see him pick the ball out of his net many times in two particular games next season but otherwise hope he prospers, brushing aside the challenges of Pepe Reina at Liverpool and Thibaut Courtois in the Belgian national squad.
… The head coach echoed my thoughts, stressing that he wished to “personally thank him for his contribution to the team last season”. Then he offered the reassurance supporters needed to hear: “There is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes. Our aim is to build a competitive squad for the new season and this deal will give us further ability to strengthen the side.”
At first glance, other likely exits from the Stadium of Light would not aid that process. Fans have also been prepared, by the usual stream of speculation, leaks and hints, to accept that the most creative player in the Sunderland squad, the Benin midfielder Stephane Sessegnon, has played his last game for the club.
We have made the obligatory journey from empty assertions that he has settled well in the North East, loves the club and wants to remain, to the apparent certainty that he is heading east. Reports suggest either a short hop to Ligue 1 (Marseille, deadly dull last season despite finishing second, are in desperate need of playmaking flair) or a long-haul mercenary flight to China.
When the whispers first surfaced, an electronic acquaintance exclaimed on an e-mail loop to which I belong: “If it’s true, then he’s clearly just another greedy sod like Asamoah Gyan with no professional ambition.”
I beg to differ. Chinese football is hardly state of the art but how many of us feel so bound by emotion or honour to our current employers that we would turn down a fabulous offer to move? Sessegnon is 29 in any case. Would we have stood in the way of a Rolls-Royce engineer who, with not too many years left before retirement, found himself tempted by a lucrative contract to work on pre-respectability Skodas?
… PDC will find the wait for forgiveness a long one if he starts the new season without having added the midfield spark that will disappear with Sessegnon.
Lee Cattermole, another likely casualty of PDC’s desire to make the squad his own, offers spark of quite the wrong kind.
There is a good player buried somewhere inside him but the struggle to escape from a fragile shell, weakened by reckless indiscipline and constant injury, seems too great. Cattermole’s admirers argue that Sunderland invariably show better shape and substance when he is in the team, but it would be hard to shed tears over the sale of a player who spends more time suspended or on the physio’s bench.
Over to the Salut! Sunderland jury ….
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