Malcolm Dawson writes…..I’ve no doubt the powers that be are working their socks off trying to rationalise the playing staff at Sunderland AFC but the goings on all seem a bit strange to my unknowing eye. Jeremaine Lens, who I thought might have proved to be an important player for us this season, is allowed to reunite with Advocaat in Turkey, presumably on the premise that Vincente Iborra and Ryan Evans had pens poised ready to sign and bolster our midfield. Now we know those deals have fallen through and once again we are forced to take part in that last minute scramble that is transfer deadline day, still searching for a striker, a back up (or challenging for a starting spot) keeper, more midfielders and perhaps another centre back in case Kone is allowed to leave, despite Moyes’s insistence he will be going nowhere. We’ll know in less than 12 hours.
Meanwhile Pete Sixsmith has been busy trying to put the day’s dealings into some kind of context as he imagines how the deadline day chat between a possible Sunderland target and his agent might go.
AND THE CONVERSATION GOES LIKE THIS……..
Imagine a player in Europe and his agent talking on Transfer Deadline Day. The conversation might go something like this:
Player: “Have you anything fixed up for me today then?”
Agent: “There’s some interest from the English Premier League.”
P: “Who? Everton, Tottenham? Southampton?”
A: “Er, not quite. Set your sights a bit lower.”
P: ”Watford? Come on tell me.”
A: “Well, they’ve been in it for 10 years and they have an experienced manager. It’s Sunderland.”
P: “Where’s that then? Is it near London? How close to Manchester?”
A: “No to both. It’s in the North East of England. It’s nearer to Edinburgh than London.”
P: “Do they wear kilts and play the bagpipes then? If they do, you can cross them off the list.”
A: “Nooo. It’s a nice place. It has a beach and is near to some glorious countryside.”
P: “Ok. Fill me in on the city. I don’t have to live there do I?”
A: “It used to be a shipbuilding town but the shipyards have gone. Nissan have a huge factory nearby which makes all kinds of motors but they have little to do with the football club. The River Wear cuts the city in half and the stadium overlooks the river as it makes its way to the sea. There are a couple of good beaches and a splendid Morrison’s on the promenade. What more could you want?”
P: “Tell me a bit about their history.”
A: “They have won the League Championship six times, but the last time was eighty years ago, long before the European Cup, never mind the Champions League. The last trophy they won was the FA Cup in 1973 and since then they have been down up and down like a bride’s nightie. Are you familiar with that saying where you come from?”
P: “Of course. George Formby is very popular where I come from. We love his toothy grin and his ukulele and his catch phrase ‘Turned out nice again.’ Tell me about their recent history.”
A: “They have been in the EPL for ten seasons and have only once finished in the top half. The last four seasons, they have avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth. They have employed eight managers in that time, some of them big names.”
P: “What happened to them”?
A: “The owner either sacked them or they left to retire or they went on to manage the national team. Now he has employed a man who was at Everton for a decade and who has since been sacked by Manchester United and Real Sociedad. They have trouble keeping managers. Arsenal it isn’t.”
P: “Any decent players?”
A: “They have some but whether they are there after the window closes is debatable. Kone from Lorient did well for them but Everton want him. They have Jermain Defoe but he is getting no younger. The rest are ok – you may have heard of Fabio Borini, ex Liverpool, Jack Rodwell, ex Manchester City, Adnan Janusaz, ex Manchester United and Jeremaine Lens, ex Dinamo Kiev – but he has just scooted off to Fenerbache. They need a couple of good signings. You could be the boy.”
P: “Give me three good reasons why I should go there.”
A: “They pay well. They have a great fan base – average crowd is about 40,000 in a 48,000 stadium and the supporters know their stuff. You could be a hero if it works out for you and you don’t bugger off to Everton. And I need the commission on this one”.
P: “And three reasons why I shouldn’t.”
A: “They chop and change managers an awful lot. The last one left to take over the England job and the club never thanked him for keeping them up and sending their bitterest rivals down. He never said thanks to the fans that had stood by him, so it all ended rather badly. Two managers before that, they appointed a crazy Italian who signed a raft of players and banned mayonnaise and ketchup from the canteen. He lasted six months.
They also seem to sign players without quite knowing why. There is no coherent playing philosophy at the club and they seem to stumble along having thrown a team together in September and then changing it again in January.
The owner is tightening the purse strings. I may get you a better deal and make more commission elsewhere.”
P: “Not entirely sure I fancy it. Are there any other EPL clubs interested?”
A: “ I have just had Tony Pulis on the phone………”
P: “Find me a nice house in Herrington………”