You’re going to like this but not a lot as Maja does his disappearing act

Well it’s finally happened and Josh Maja is departing for pastures new as the following Twitter post from Nick Barnes confirms.

Time to move on. Jack Ross is a pragmatic sort and will no doubt work with what he’s got and hopefully what he gets before the transfer window shuts. It’s not an ideal scenario, losing your top scorer and with Jerome Sinclair’s return to Watford and Andrew Nelson also being allowed to leave we are left a bit light up top, but as many will say, no player (and especially no agent) is bigger than the club. It is to be hoped that replacements are brought in quickly but with other clubs being fully aware of the situation can we expect potential targets to suddenly become more expensive?

Pete Sixsmith has his own take on the situation.

Sixer by Jake


Nick Barnes broke the news on Wednesday night that Josh Maja had played his last game for Sunderland at Scunthorpe and that it was likely that he would trade the slog of Division One and trips to Accrington, Rochdale and Fleetwood for Bordeaux and visits to Marseille, Nice and Paris. The county Palatinate of Lancashire pales into insignificance when compared to the Cote d’Azur and the City of Lights.

It’s a shame but once the deadline set by the club had passed, it was inevitable. The only things left to decide were when he would go and where he would go. Girondins Bordeaux is the likeliest destination, a club formed in 1881 and who play in a stadium that seats 41,000 – in other words, a club that is similar to Sunderland in terms of history and support.  They have been more successful than we have over the last few years, which wouldn’t be very difficult – probably about as difficult as being out-thought by Chris Grayling.

They won the Ligue 1 title as recently as 2009 and the Coupe de France in 2013, have produced two world class players in Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana and are currently sitting in 11th place in Ligue 1, 11 points away from a Champions League place and 11 points away from a relegation slot. My guess is that they will not be concerned with either at the end of the season.

When I heard the news that he was about to leave, I was not surprised. Had he been keen to extend his stay on Wearside, he would have signed the contract that the club offered him and perhaps gone on to fire in the goals that would take us back to the Championship and hopefully, help us to consolidate our position in that most competitive of leagues. But once he made it clear that he would not agree to deadlines, it was inevitable that he would leave and that he would go to a European league with Germany being the likeliest destination.

His agents, the Elite Project Group, have a strong track record in this area, engineering moves for Jadon Sancho from Manchester City to Borussia Dortmund and Reiss Nelson from Arsenal to TSG Hoffenheim. Both are the same age as Maja and both are flourishing in the Bundesliga. So, the move to France was a bit of a surprise.

French domestic football is not at the same level as the top leagues in England or Germany and the league is a procession behind the obscenely wealthy, Qatari owned Paris Saint-Germain. Whether Maja will flourish here, remains to be seen.

Jake: ‘and if you don’t get a game at Bordeaux?’

The move is disappointing but it is how football is in the 21st century.

Players look for moves to progress their careers and to extend their bank balances. Some, like Marko Arnautovic, are looking for a huge pay day in China. Others, like Alvaro Morata, need to get away from a club that no longer rate them. Maja does not fall into either of these two categories.

Financially, a new deal at Sunderland would have given him a comfortable bank balance. The manager liked him. He was a regular starter and was scoring goals albeit at a low level. He would have played a major part in getting the club up and then he could have tested himself in the Championship before making a move to the Premier League, perhaps back to London, his home city. Maja has benefited Sunderland and Sunderland have benefited Maja. The 16 goals that he has scored this season have given us a base to build on and the fee that he brings in can hopefully be used to bring in two replacements who can build on his good work.

On the other hand, the club have taken a young player who had not made it at Fulham and Crystal Palace and who was looking for a club. He came through the Kinetic Foundation, an organisation that uses sport to support disadvantaged young people in South London and I imagine that they advised him about the move to Wearside when he was 16. He worked his way through the Under 18s and Under 23s and arrived in the first team last season and scored within five minutes of coming on. This season, he has been first choice and appeared to have a good relationship with Jack Ross.

That relationship has clearly been strained recently and Ross has looked weary whenever a question was asked about Maja. It looks as if he had accepted that he would be leaving last week and that maybe the illness he suffered prior to the Luton game was as genuine as the ones I used to have if I fancied a midweek away game. The club find themselves in a difficult position. Keep him and they have a player in the dressing room who clearly does not want to be there. Keep him and they run the risk of losing out on what for us, is a substantial fee. Keep him and they risk upsetting what appears to be a harmonious first team squad.

On the other hand, sell him and they will be accused of doing what the club has done for many years – sell its best players. Starting with Colin Todd and running on through Marco Gabbiadini, Michael Bridges and Darren Bent we have weakened ourselves by taking the money and then frittering it away. Those who are not convinced by the current owners will use this to fuel their rants.



Some that got away.





I am disappointed that Maja has left, but I can understand why he has made the move. He would say that Sunderland have developed him and he leaves them in a stronger position than they were when he arrived. He has every right to turn down a new contract and look to see whatever else is available to him. The word “loyalty” will be bandied about and accusations will be hurled at a young man who has made a decision that has annoyed many Sunderland supporters. Those who have said that he lacks pace, has no physical strength and who does nothing but score goals, will be satisfied tonight.

Some of us are disappointed that another promising young player has left us, following in the footsteps of Joel Asoro and Paddy McNair. Interestingly, neither of those two have done anything worthwhile at Swansea City and Middlesbrough respectively.

I hope that things go well for Maja. He has scored some very good goals for us and his contribution to the cause has been extensive. But, should he ever appear at the Stadium of Light again, I cannot guarantee him a rousing welcome.

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New man for Sunderland hot seat, an older man on the A list


Colin Randall writes: About the only way I could get through the first half of the Millwall game, even via the Barnes & Benno commentary on the club site, and what Gary Bennett called the worst goalkeeping (Robbin Ruiter) he could recall witnessing, was to read Pete Sixsmith‘s account of a night out with past players. Sadly Tony Coton couldn’t make either the event or the match (he might have got a game on either side as goalkeeping howlers led to a 2-2 that established Sunderland, on one statistical test, as England’s worst home side in history) …


As I walked into Quinns Bar last night for the launch of Tales From The Red and Whites Volume 2, Nick Barnes, the estimable BBC Newcastle commentator shot out and dashed downstairs in a tremendous hurry.

I hoped that it was not bad news for him e.g. the restoration of David Moyes as manager, the sale of the club to Robert and Grace Mugabe, the closure of the Harris Tweed industry and wondered if it could be news on the managerial front. All was about to be revealed……

Read moreNew man for Sunderland hot seat, an older man on the A list

Nick Barnes: ‘what’s it like covering a normal club instead of Sunderland?’

Nick Barnes, interviewing Grayson’s equally hapless predecessor

Monsieur Salut writes: one saving grace of supporting Sunderland from afar, whether from France or London in my case, is the need to rely on Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett‘s commentary on each game at BBC Radio Newcastle. It’s not free as it used to be but for once, that is not the club’s fault – the Football League insists that commentary via club sites should be paid-for.

Someone I follow at Twitter said last night that Benno’s moaning got him down. In my case, it’s the cause of that moaning that depresses me: the utter dross and incompetence he and Nick are required to assess. But I believe they do it, the commentary and the punditry, in style, Nick’s measured eloquence combining effectively with Benno’s footballing nous and passion for the club he captained.

Here, from a Facebook posting he has given me consent to reproduce, Nick – read more about him here – reflects on the club’s predicament and suggests we will rise again. As for when, he is less sure.

And if you read on, there’s a response from Graeme Anderson, another man who knows the joys and other emotions of reporting on Sunderland …

Read moreNick Barnes: ‘what’s it like covering a normal club instead of Sunderland?’

As Sunderland face West Brom, enter Salut! Sunderland’s 10th birthday competition

Jake: ‘ha’way Lads, this time’


There are two Salut! Sunderland competitions on the go.

Guess the Score in the match at West Brom and you could win your choice from these mugs – the inclusion of WBA-themed mugs indicating that Baggies are welcome to enter, too.  This posting is a signpost – you cannot post comments here – and you should go to the main Guess the Score article by clicking anywhere on this sentence if you want to have a go.

Read moreAs Sunderland face West Brom, enter Salut! Sunderland’s 10th birthday competition

The highs (Ndong, Denayer, Manquillo) and lows (M’Vila) of Sunderland’s transfer window

... by Jake
… by Jake

With two tweets as the transfer window slammed shut, the sensible and always engaging BBC Radio Newcastle commentator on Sunderland games, Nick Barnes, summed up the frustrations of all those who support the club.

We can and should applaud the late acquisitions of Didier Ndong (he seems to prefer Ibrahim as his given name and Wikipedia awards him an apostrophe but we will go with the SAFC version for now) and, if regrettably another as on-loan signing, Jason Denayer.

But the £5.5m spent earlier on a pair of Manchester United reserves, who may yet prove worth their weight in gold, seems rash compared with the club’s steadfast refusal to reach a deal with Rubin Kuzan to bring Yann M’Vila back permanently to Wearside.

Read moreThe highs (Ndong, Denayer, Manquillo) and lows (M’Vila) of Sunderland’s transfer window