Most people seem to agree that Jordan Henderson has looked short of his best in recent games.
He remains a terrific player who ought to have a truly massive career ahead of him.
We naturally hope that career is with Sunderland AFC, and that playing for us proves no obstacle to picking up loads of caps for England. Being chosen for the England Under-21 squad for a friendly in Italy next week means he may have to wait for his second full cap, but that wait is unlikely to prove a long one.
When I argued recently at the Blackcats list that Steve Bruce should make keeping Danny Welbeck a pre-condition of allowing Henderson to go to Manchester United, a fellow subscribe said he would rather keep Hendo as he saw him as more important to our long term needs.
But the reality is that neither Henderson’s modest loss of form nor public commitments on his behalf to Sunderland’s cause will halt the speculation.
Even as the transfer window closed, some newspaper and website reports were speculating that his move to Old Trafford in the summer was more or less a done deal.
It is true that if players want to leave, or clubs the size of Man Utd wish to acquire the best brightest stars or prospects of other teams, they generally get their way in the end.
At the same time, Sir Alex Ferguson said, when asked about the possibility of Welbeck joining Sunderland on a permanent basis: “Steve has as much chance of getting me.”
So let Steve Bruce, Niall Quinn and Ellis Short repay the compliment and let Sir Alex know in the clearest terms that there is as much chance of Jordan Henderson joining United as there is of the official SAFC club site launching a £7.5m takeover bid for Salut! Sunderland.
And that if he insists on banging on the door until the answer changes, that change – if, against our wishes, it has to come – is accompanied by a non-negotiable demand for Mr Welbeck PLUS a top-up fee to cover the financial differential.