Up to now, Salut! Sunderland has held its fire on the January transfer window. Before today, the fifth and therefore most recent in this series of articles about Roy Keane’s dealings in the transfer market appeared as far back as the first day of September.
Every SAFC fan knows that we lack quality in all parts of the field. We need men who can defend at Premiership level, giving much needed confidence to a wobbly but theoretically brilliant goalkeeper, others who can pass to players wearing the same colours and one or two capable of putting the ball in the opposition net.
If any of these can also be trusted to take a penalty, so much the better.
But Keano and Niall Quinn know all this, too. They are fully aware that all the hard luck stories in the world are not going to keep us in the Premiership. The money is there to strengthen the squad and so is the desire. The problem as ever, and it’s one many diehard fans have trouble recognising, is that not many top class players actually want to play for a yo-yo club based in The Far North.
We can all moan about that, and preach the great virtues of the North East and the Stadium of Light, but it is not going to impress Miss/Mrs/Ms Wag or her old man.
Our best hope is that attractive wages, and easy get-out clauses in case we go down, will prove just enough to secure some key signings. The pre-season argument about not busting the pay structure no longer holds good. How many of the present squad could seriously complain if others came in on better money?
The coming days are vital to our immediate future. The return of Jonny Evans is a promising start (and a loan would have been the right decision, given delicate matters arising from the Man Utd Christmas party, even if an outright transfer was in Keane’s original thoughts). Jonny’s picture comes courtesy of our confrères at A Love Supreme.
Pete Sixsmith is wildly optimistic, in my view, to call for nine points from the next three home league games. Yet another appalling display today – you’ll have seen Pete’s damning verdict – supports my more realistic expectations, even if an early FA Cup exit would worry me a lot less if we hadn’t managed to drop out as limply as we departed the Coca Cola Cup against mighty Luton.
But by this time next week, we need to have reinforced the squad with sufficient genuine top flight quality to ensure that we do not drop more than three of those points.