Soccer Magazine

The Highs (Ndong, Denayer, Manquillo) and Lows (M’Vila) of Sunderland’s Transfer Window

By Colin Randall @salutsunderland
... by Jake

… by Jake

With two tweets as the transfer window slammed shut, the sensible and always engaging BBC Radio Newcastle commentator on Sunderland games, Nick Barnes, summed up the frustrations of all those who support the club.

We can and should applaud the late acquisitions of Didier Ndong (he seems to prefer Ibrahim as his given name and Wikipedia awards him an apostrophe but we will go with the SAFC version for now) and, if regrettably another as on-loan signing, Jason Denayer.

But the £5.5m spent earlier on a pair of Manchester United reserves, who may yet prove worth their weight in gold, seems rash compared with the club’s steadfast refusal to reach a deal with Rubin Kuzan to bring Yann M’Vila back permanently to Wearside.

Not back on Wearside - yet

Not back on Wearside – yet

It’s Thursday and it would seem more questions than answers. Communication is key. It’s the lifeblood of any community or organisation #safc

— Nick Barnes (@Tweed_Barnesy) August 31, 2016

M’Vila had flown to England, apparently to be present if a last-minute agreement was reached, and – unless his Instagram account has been hacked or is not his at all but a spoof – showed deep, even bitter disappointment at the outcome.

There is talk of a preliminary deal having been reached for him to join in January, when one of the finest midfielders seen in Sunderland colours for many years, will be out of contract. But not all of us will feel reassured by that, not least if the player’s attachment to the club has genuinely been weakened by deadline-day events. A firm club statement this morning would be helpful.

Signing M’Vila wasn’t just about how good he was, he was a talisman like Kevin Ball & the club has missed a significant opportunity #safc

— Nick Barnes (@Tweed_Barnesy) August 31, 2016

David Moyes is blameless for the appallingly late start to transfer activity and few of us will ever forgive the FA for the unjust and indefensible delay in sorting out Big Sam’s appointment.

But the fact is that he went into the last straight of the window needing not only to strengthen the defence and midfield but he also needed a striker and, following Vito Mannone’s injury, a keeper. Neither materialised, leaving him to scratch around – if an emergency arises – for anyone out there who may be a free agent and therefore still eligible to be recruited.

Losing Younes Kaboul was undoubtedly a severe blow and the circumstances have not been adequately explained. But let us welcome the acquisitions Moyes has been able to make – and crucially, the club’s commendable stand on Lamine Koné, denying his move to Everton. With Papy Djilobodji he could now – assuming he remains professional about his work – forge another robust pairing.

Around them, we’ll have Javier Manquillo, Jason Denayer and Patrick van Aanholt, with Ndong ahead in defensive midfield and with any luck on injury problems, Jan Kirchhoff back to provide creativity and composure. Moyes then has all sorts of midfield options provided by Seb Larsson and Lee Cattermole when fit and yes, Donald Love and Paddy McNair as switchable from defence to more central roles.

There is central defence and fullback cover from John O’Shea and Billy Jones and yet more midfield candidates in Steve Pienaar and Lynden Gooch.

With only Jermain Defoe as an out-and-out high-scoring striker (and “only” feels the wrong word for a man of such ability and success), there will then be enormous pressure on whoever Moyes chooses between Khazri, Borini, Watmore and Januzaj to add goals from attacking midfield (or as strikers when Defoe, 34 next month, is out). Unless, that is, young Joel Asoro develops as an attacker quicker than I feel is reasonable to expect.

Anyone fancy putting together their preferred lineups from what we’ve ended up with?

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

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