We can now put out a full team of players bought or borrowed by Paolo Di Canio, with some to spare for the bench. It might involve a little flexibility on positioning, and PDC needs to draw on the inherited squad for his substitute goalie, but here’s how it could look:
Andrea Dossena, Valentin Roberge, Mobido Diakite, Ondrej Celustka
Charis Mauvrias, Ki Sung-Yeung, Cabral, Emanuele Giaccherini
Jozy Altidore, Fabio Borini
Subs: Keiren Westwood, David Moberg Karlsson, El Hadji-Ba, Duncan Watmore
Just to make it interesting – and maybe to give us hope – we could appoint Steven Fletcher as an honorary new boy and stick him on in place of one of the strikers. Depending on how long Altidore is out with his hamstring, we’d probably have to. And that leaves out a lot of people who have come to be regarded as first-team squad members: Colback, Larsson, O’Shea, Wes Brown (as and when), Gardner, Johnson, Cuellar, Vaughan …
Others have gone, of course, or fallen deeply out of favour. No Sess, no Mignolet and, for other reasons, no Bardsley or Cattermole.
The loss of Mignolet was unavoidable. He was among the best three keepers in the Premier last season and may before long be considered among the best in the world. It was unrealistic to expect him to stick around.
Sess’s departure splits the supporters but fills me with sadness. The sending-off at a crucial late stage of last season, the brushes with the law and the utterly unreliable form all combine to suggest PDC and Sunderland may be better off without him but I detest seeing a genuinely, naturally gifted player leave without any obvious replacement. I share the fears of one fan commenting here that he’ll turn in a blinder for WBA against us.
The transfer window slammed shut without the arrival of an “English-style” playmaker, or such an individual of any nationality, that PDC craved and we all knew we needed. One was available, of course, but he went inexplicably to Hull. Creativity looks like being a continuing problem.
But the next few weeks and months will be interesting. They could be exhilarating or reduce us to total despair. Anyone who still feels able to make light of an atrocious start either knows something the rest of us don’t, or is bonkers.
The coming run of games is well known to all Sunderland fans by now. We need either exceptional home form or some stonking performances on the road.
I just wonder how long it will be before PDC feels the need to recall Catts or Bardo, both injured at present. No one wanted them in the window, or perhaps it’s just that no one felt like paying them what we do in wages. Catts has his admirers; could his steely qualities be of use, provided he has somehow cottoned on to what you cannot get away with as a man with a reputation? Could Bardsley recover the form that made him the supporters’ player of the season? Or are both outcasts beyond redemption?
I heard talk of widespread panic among our supporters on Twitter when the Sess deal was revealed. Not all of the new signings fill me with excitement or faith, but I do agree with those who discourage the temptation to write them off on unsound grounds, eg Liverpool fans didn’t rate Borino (so what?), Dossena’s unfit (he isn’t, or won’t be by the time we play Arsenal).
In other words, I am prepared to see how the new-look team performs while praying fervently that PDC and those close to him know what they’re doing.
What does the Salut! Sunderland jury make of it? At least we have 10 days before we need to fret again.