Evolution Not Revolution For Sunderland This Summer, Please!

we’re not much further on than we were at the start of the season

Evolution Not Revolution For Sunderland This Summer, Please!

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May 28th, 2012

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The season just gone was a very up and down one for Sunderland, with upheaval on and off the pitch.

At the start of it all we were relatively hopeful under Steve Bruce: we seemed to have all the tools to make inroads towards the top ten of the league, but for one reason or another, he just couldn’t mould them into a team.

Along came Martin O’Neill to pull us out of that predicament, but we’re not much further on than we were at the start of the season, and it looks like there’s going to be plenty coming in and going out the doors of the Stadium Of Light this summer yet again.

Some of the moves out have happened, or are likely to happen very soon. Forgotten men like Craig Gordon, Asamoah Gyan, Marcos Angeleri and George McCartney are all off to pastures new, while the likes of Ahmed Elmohamady and Titus Bramble might want not have much longer left on Wearside.

Those are just the expected ones. There could easily be surprise moves, and notably Kieran Richardson and Stephane Sessegnon remain the source of much speculation. Hopefully these two don’t go anywhere, but money talks at the end of the day.

So what for this summer? It’s highly likely that we’re going to see a great many players brought in to replace the outgoing, and as Martin O’Neill looks to put his own stamp on the squad. I have to say, I hope this isn’t the case.

While it’s good to have some solid ‘squad’ players, there’s a glaring need for an extra bit of quality there, and we’ve seen with the success of our near neighbours that adding one or two players of quality can make a world of difference, plus of course raise the game of the rest of the squad.

As to who will come in, it’s really anyone’s guess at the moment, but it’s clear to see what positions are of need. A striker or two has to be the first port of call, and of the names being heavily linked such as Grant Holt, Yakubu and Steven Fletcher, I’d be delighted with any of those.

Another huge need is creativity in midfield. James McClean has been a revelation, whipping balls into the box with tremendous skill and accuracy. Seb Larsson on the other side’s dead ball expertise are widely noted, but we need some more.

Some argue we already have it in Sessegnon, and while he’s an incredible player, he’s not immune to his off days, and worryingly when he doesn’t turn it on, nobody else does either. Someone linked who I’d love to see is Blackburn Rovers’ attacking threat Junior Hoilett.

He seems to have all the skills required to fit perfectly into our system, and behind getting a new striker in, Hoilett has to be a top priority. Between whoever is leading our line, Sessegnon, McClean and potentially Hoilett, we’d have an attacking foursome that many teams in the league would be incredibly envious of.

Adding players in these positions has to be the start of the process, not bringing in the likes of Carlos Cuellar, who has been strongly linked. Cuellar’s fine, but we’ve got  enough journeyman defenders.

Will Martin O’Neill have learned from the mistakes of Bruce who continually bought average players? Time will only tell, but this summer is a huge test to see whether the club is going anywhere or if we’re doomed to a life of eternal mid-table mediocrity, and one or two signings versus five or six could be there difference between the two.

Words by Simon Walsh, read the rest of his Footballscores.com Sunderland blog.

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