The older you get, the less bothered you are if a dozen top-class signings haven’t been made by the second week of Wimbledon. Jack Butler, a new guest contributor*, helpfully fills in some of the detail of news on which Salut! Sunderland has so far had little to say: the arrival of, or reported deals for, relatively unknown names. And Jack sees reason for concern that others among the Premier League non-elite gave been more active as buyers …
It appeared this week that Paulo Di Canio had to sell before he could buy as Sunderland fans witnessed the first major exit of the summer with the departure of Simon Mignolet to Liverpool.
The £9m sale is a pretty good deal for a goalkeeper who, although proving himself over the past couple of seasons, isn’t yet the finished article. If Liverpool think they’ve got a keeper to outclass Pepe Reina, they’ve another think coming – Mignolet is better than the Spaniard but not staggeringly so.
Mignolet was the first sale of the summer and, according to the online football betting news, the boss is about to lose Stéphane Sessegnon and Lee Cattermole very soon. The pair should generate a decent transfer kitty for Di Canio but there is still disappointment that we have not begun buying sooner.
Just look at our rivals and it is clear to see we have a long summer ahead if we want to strengthen this squad adequately. Aston Villa have moved quickly to boost their defensive ranks, signing the young Danish international Jores Okore while Paul Lambert further plundered the Superliga by agreeing a £2m deal for the striker Nicklas Helenius.
Villa have spent £13.5m already this summer, Fulham bought the Dutch international goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg for just £4.75m, Norwich netted a striker early on and even Southampton have begun splashing this cash. We, meanwhile, have brought in a handful of free transfers and spent £1.5m on Gothenburg’s Moberg Karlsson – hardly a landmark signing.
This is not a call to bankrupt the club in a mass spending spree like QPR or Portsmouth but surely it’s time for us to dabble more forcefully in the market.
Fans who bet on football know speculating to accumulate is a must in the Premier League and, if Di Canio is to get this team anywhere next season, he needs to strengthen the forward line, which remains a real concern. Were it not for Sessegnon and Steven Fletcher we would hardly have scored at all last term. Danny Graham’s £5m arrival from Swansea didn’t help much, the man to solve our offensive woes netting a princely no goals in 13 appearances.
While we dally – evidently waiting to sell before we buy – Cardiff signed another Danish star, Andreas Cornelius, for around £7m completely out of the blue.
Now, unless Di Canio has some targets kept secret from us all, it is difficult to see who we’re going to buy, now the early talent has been snapped up. According to reports, we’ve confirmed a fee for the Le Havre left back, Benjamin Mendy, an 18-year-old French U19 star with bags of potential. He’ll cost around £5m – if we beat Arsenal to the quick – and it would be a move in the right direction. But many supporters agree we need some bigger names in the ranks.
Scott Parker has been linked but the Londoner has made one career move out of the capital – for a pretty disappointing two-year spell at Newcastle. He’s on his last legs and Spurs want rid, so it wouldn’t be the best acquisition we’d ever made.
No, Di Canio needs to buy a player whose parent club does not want to offload. That’s the mark of a decent arrival to boost the team. Celtic’s Fraser Forster would be a perfect replacement for Mignolet, while his teammate, Gary Hooper, is set to reject Hull City’s advances. Why aren’t we in for Hooper? He’s a magnificent striker, works harder than his talent allows and would play well off Graham and around Fletcher.
But no, the 25-year-old will probably pass us by too. This summer’s available talent is being snapped up fast and we’re facing a difficult few months if Di Canio isn’t allowed to spend now. The building blocks of a solid Premier League campaign begin in preseason and, while we have the foundations, the real work is yet to get off the ground.
* This is a sponsored posting which has been approved because it discusses genuine issues on the minds of SAFC supporters. Jack Butler writes on behalf of the bet365 UK News site but points out he has been an avid Sunderland fan since the day his dad first took him to see the team in 1992, the year we last reached the FA Cup final. He has held a season ticket for the past three years. Whisper it but his favourite player in the current squad is James McClean.