Malcolm Dawson writes….I turned on my new internet enabled telly last night to watch the Lads play the final warm up match against the might of Borussia Dortmund, more than a little worried by the starting line up. Worried because it seemed that the team had picked itself. No Larsson, no Kirchhoff, no Jones, no Defoe. A bench comprising academy players and Jordon Pickford. The absence of N’Zogbia hinted that there was no desire to offer him any sort of contract and as Pienaar wasn’t there it didn’t seem as if he was going to be added to the squad in the immediate future.
We all knew that the squad was threadbare but if proof were needed that we are in a poorer state than we were a year ago, it was here on the teamsheet. Having said that, the new kit looks good and the team played well I thought. In typical Sunderland fashion they struggled to keep possession for any meaningful length of time but kept their shape well and looked comfortable against last season’s Bundesliga runners up.
O’Shea played in Kirchhoff’s position and did well. Cattermole was Cattermole and let the opposition know he was there and Borini, Watmore and Khazri all had chances. Not a bad outing but with only a week to go still no signings. Then shortly after the game I logged onto safc.com and there it was. Our first signing of this window.
I must admit I know precious little about Papy Djilobodji except what I’ve read which is probably what most of you have read too, but Salut! Sunderland offers him a warm welcome. One of M Salut’s acquaintences, who happens to support Chelski rather cruelly described him as “think Gareth Hall but without the talent.” How anyone can reach that verdict when he played less than a minute for the London club is more than a little harsh I feel. Loaned out to Werner Bremen the Senegalese international effectively saved them from relegation with his defensive performances and his goal late in the season against Eintracht Frankfurt condemned them to the relegation play offs instead.
With Younis Kaboul’s injury record and John O’Shea’s advancing years centre back is an area that needed to be strengthened and hopefully Djilobodji will provide cover and competition for that position, just as long as it doesn’t mean the club is seriously considering offers for the goal machine that is Lamine Kone. So one signing and rumours that M’Vila is ready to put pen to paper on a four year deal is a start. Yedlin left out of Spurs’ overseas trip may be another hint that things are moving in the right direction but the club is keeping its cards close to its chest and we’ll just have to wait and see.
In the meantime, welcome Papy to the emotional rollercoaster that is Sunderland A.F.C.