No one likes to be honoured by a clip like this. A year from now, we all hope to be looking back on the season’s glories from Titus Bramble, if join us he does, and not a new bunch of calamities. Scroll down for a much-respected Wigan fan’s warm commendation. And Titus: the clip is meant in fun …
What we wanted was John Mensah back. What it looks as if we are going to get is Titus Bramble, for a reported £750,000-£1m from Wigan (have we simply given up on Mensah? Tragic if so).
My immediate reaction to the speculation was to feel the need to suppress a sigh. Nothing against Bramble, but signing him does not seem, at first glance, the action of a team aiming for the Premier League top 10 in the short term.
As The Daily Telegraph put it, Bramble became “a figure of fun among Sunderland fans during his accident-prone five years with Newcastle”, though the paper added that he had been itching to work under Bruce again.
In common with every signing, Salut! Sunderland will nevertheless give the lad a fair crack of the whip. And the reactions are not all negative. Among those seen by me:
Don’t let his Newcastle episode cloud your judgement. He has been a terrific defender for Wigan, we will miss him. – Bernard Ramsdale, landlord of Ye Olde Tree and Crown, top Wigan fan site
He’s no longer the figure of fun that he once was. He has always been able to play. Being able to defend was never an issue for him. His concentration and attention (or lack of it) was what let him down. He does seem to have dealt with that and is an improved player as a result. An Ipswich fan once said to me (before his Maggie howlers) that Bramble found the game too easy to play. I often used to think that this is part of the reason why his mind often seemed to be some place else. – Jeremy Robson, a familiar figure at this site
But Jeremy went on to voice his disquiet at the way the transfer dealings and pre-season build-up are going. “I’m trying desperately to come to terms with the clear message that we are not going to sign Big John, and Bramble for me is some way short of being considered as an adequate replacement,” he writes at the Blackcats list. ” … we look seriously weaker than we did at the end of last season for me in key areas.”
Over to you, Steve Bruce and, in no small measure, Niall Quinn and Ellis Short.
The jury has gone out far too early in my view, with but is inclined just now to convict you of under-ambition. I will certainly need to be convinced that Bramble is the way forward, but believe you must devote the remaining time between now and Birmingham City at home on Aug 14 to ensuring we have:
* adequate, Premier-standard cover for Craig Gordon
* a settled and strong back four
* another striker
It is on Steven Bruce’s response to these needs that his promise of a few “quality signings’ will be judged.
And if it is true that our hopes of bringing Mensah back foundered on his reluctance to accept a pay-as-you-play deal, then I hardly blame him for feeling he can do better elsewhere. Yet again, a sometimes-injured Mensah is a decidedly more appealing option than certain players, including one or two bought by Bruce, would be if never troubling the treatment room.