Wearied by the Borini saga, wondering whether we’re better off

We’ve gone three PL games without any forward scoring so it looks like the front line failings we’ve experienced for at least two seasons are destined to continue. Jozy will score one day but Fletch looks like he’s playing the wrong system and Wickham’s playing the wrong position.

John McCormick:
John McCormick: looking at what’s afoot

Read moreWearied by the Borini saga, wondering whether we’re better off

Hopeful or in despair as PDC’s new broom finishes sweeping for now?

Jake wonders whether Things will Go Better with PDC's new brew...
Jake wonders whether Things will Go Better with PDC’s new brew…

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:

Vito Mannone

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

Read moreHopeful or in despair as PDC’s new broom finishes sweeping for now?

Transfer window or academy graduates? Making the grade and falling by the wayside

John McCormick: looking to the future
John McCormick: looking to the future

John McCormick takes a long, cool look at the way young would-be footballers’ dreams of top-flight careers are nurtured and, all too often, dashed …

There have recently
been comments that Martin O’Neill needed not only to get busy in the transfer window but also to start bringing in some of our academy players.

The latter may be wishful thinking. You may remember Goldy, on these pages, voicing early-season criticism of our academy’s attitude to young players. My own experience, gained when I talked to teachers and conducted pupil interviews in the North West, suggests that there is a problem but it’s not confined to Sunderland.

Read moreTransfer window or academy graduates? Making the grade and falling by the wayside

Transfer deadline: thanks heavens it has passed (with Villa and Liverpool losers)

Sixer by Jake

Pete Sixsmith breathes a huge sigh of relief as the window slams shut …

Six years ago, when Sky Sports News was on Freeview, I sat open mouthed as Roy Keane brought in 6 players on the same day. Connolly, Kavanagh, Miller, Varga, Wallace and Yorke all arrived in the proverbial frenzy of activity as the new manager realised that the likes of Arnau, Miller (T) and Caldwell were going to catapult us into Division One.

Read moreTransfer deadline: thanks heavens it has passed (with Villa and Liverpool losers)

Soapbox: will Balotelli, Davies and/or Muslimovic climb through our transfer window?

Another gem from Jake

Pete Sixsmith gazes through the transfer window, sees little he truly fancies but wonders whether one or other of the men whose names are being bandied about could nevertheless do a job for Sunderland …

There are five days to go before the transfer window slams shut until June and so far there has been about as much excitement as you would get at a concert starring Des O’Connor and Paul (“oops, there goes my finger”) Daniels.

There have been a couple of trialists in at the Academy. Mario Balotelli’s younger brother, Enoch came and went, while the Bosnian international Zlatan Muslimovic is still at the club with us looking at him and him looking at the club.

This morning (Thursday) there is talk of a permanent deal for Kevin Davies, who appears to be surplus to requirements at Bolton, and we are looking at the Sporting Lisbon striker Adrien Silva. That was in the Daily Mail, so maybe not a bang on certainty. Nor would I put money in Sporting’s pockets after they cheated us out of the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1973 – proving that my string of grudges goes back way before upstarts like Coventry City appeared on the scene.

Muslimovic’s last club was PAOK in Thessaloniki – and we have signed players from La Toumba before. In 1998, a small Honduran by the name of Milton Nunez appeared at the club and became the smallest and the most widely reviled player in Sunderland’s history.

He called himself Tyson because he wanted to appear aggressive, but he was no bigger than Jimmy Clitheroe and carried as much weight as Wee Jimmy Krankie. He made his debut in a Reserve game against the Mags at the Stadium and ran around an awful lot. He played two half games for the first team before departing to oblivion – or Guatemala as it is known in football terms.

When we signed him, I spoke to my brother who lives in Thessaloniki and who was friendly with some PAOK fans. He rang me back, chuckling and told me that his mates were creasing themselves that they had actually got money for Nunez and from a decent club. He prophesised that Milton might find the Premier League a wee bit beyond him.

As we all know, he was right and Nunez went down as a genuine legend for Sunderland fans as certainly Reidy’s worst signing and possibly the club’s. Apparently he is still playing at age 39 in the top league in Guatemala, so fair play to him.

The mooted Kevin Davies deal is an interesting one. He has never been my favourite player on account of how he throws his weight round at every opportunity, but he could be a useful short term signing for us. It looks as if Bendtner will miss the next few weeks with his facial injury (pizza shop workers in Copenhagen beware!!) so there may be a need for a replacement. Oumare Tounkara played a bit on Tuesday night, but I don’t know whether he can step up to Premier League level.

It also gives an opportunity for Connor Wickham to lead the line and with games coming up against sides he played against last year when he was at Ipswich, it will give us a chance to see what made The Brucester pay £8m for him.

Looking forward to a footballing treat on Sunday – maybe.

Andy Carroll, Torres and Bent: good business or desperate human trafficking?

So it ended without that extra striker coming our way. That leaves some of us feeling a little nervous, but Steve Bruce seems content with the business he’s done and with his resistance to the idea of panic measures to fill a temporary gap up front. Jeremy Robson looks at events elsewhere in the climax to one of the world’s craziest trade fairs …

The transfer window has always been controversial.

Whoever it serves hadn’t quite been figured out until this one.  Most managers seemed to hold the view that it didn’t  help anyone much as the prices demanded for players during January was artificially high and that the clubs’ finances would face less of a strain during the summer months.

Read moreAndy Carroll, Torres and Bent: good business or desperate human trafficking?

Soapbox: the January transfer window – board it up!

Football clubs up and down the land are setting out their stalls for the January sales, and looking around in the hope of snapping up bargains of their own. Pete Sixsmith would cheerfully save them all the bother. It’s all enough to make him toy with the attractions of Shildon at home instead of the FA Cup this weekend …

So, the eagerly anticipated transfer window has opened at last. Excuse me while I yawn, while Sky Sports News presenters have 28 days of collective orgasms as they break the news that Gillingham have signed a Spurs Reserve who not even Harry Redknapp has heard of and while tons and tons of newsprint are wasted on “exclusive” stories that turn out to be so exclusive that they are pure fiction.

Read moreSoapbox: the January transfer window – board it up!

Wigan or Wembley? A genuine dilemma

After Stoke,we welcome another footballing giant in Wigan Athletic. Pete Sixsmith may well give that one a miss for a ride on a potential Wembley bandwagon..

The ground at St Ives.  Picture courtesy of St Ives Town FC
The ground at St Ives. Picture courtesy of St Ives Town FC


After the display we were  forced to sit through on Monday night, only the most devoted followers of the Marquis de Sade can be looking forward to the visit of the Wigan pie eaters with any enthusiasm or expectation.

Wigan had an even worse result than we did, losing at home to serial bankrupts Notts County in an FA Cup replay, which prised 4,000 Latics out of their armchairs and into the DW stadium to watch open-mouthed as their team were dumped on.

That should reduce the Wigan following from the tiny to the miniscule, and should lead to a huge number of empty seats in the South Stand. Add to that the fact that there may well be an empty seat in the East Stand (Row 34, Seat 404) as I am caught on the horns of a footballing dilemma.

Read moreWigan or Wembley? A genuine dilemma