Initial Squad Thoughts
It’s hard to tell at the moment. We have eight injured players and one on holiday, leaving us with a bench of five central mid-fielders, a goalkeeper and a central defender. Which doesn’t give much scope for evaluating the first team squad during the friendlies.
However, of the players who I have seen, it seems that there is a solid team here. As I said in the Show Me The Money post, 19 year old Josh Maja is a star in the making. I have now partnered him with Andrew Nelson, who put two past the first team in the U23’s friendly and has continued to grab goals and assists in the follow up friendlies.
There are still some rough edges to work on – his finishing for one. But he’ll have plenty of first team opportunities and will hopefully develop with us. I love the description on the official SAFC website.
The youngster’s best assets is his work ethic which sees him cause all kinds of problems for defenders.
What more could you want in a young striker?
The other player who stands out, who was a Jack Ross loan signing, is Max Power. With a name like that how could he fail to be anything but epic.
Initially on load, but my predecessor saw sense to make him a permanent fixture – which will take effect in the January transfer window. I see him as being key to helping get us out of League One and then pushing on in the Championship. At the moment I don’t see him as a regular Premier League player, but it’s way too early to even think about being there.
In anticipation of the departure of Lee Cattermole, I started looking around for an experienced midfielder to replace him. Step up Nigel Reo Coker. I have to be honest, the name sold him to me. In my mind he has a pedigree – I am totally wrong I know – and will be great at this level. Plus he was free and his wage demands were relatively low, in comparison to Cattermole’s. £2,100 per week, in comparison to £30,000.
His abilities are on the downwards slope and with stamina of 8 he won’t be seeing out many games. However, it’s his experience I was after. There are much better players at the club in his position, but I want him here to help develop them.
We also have 18 year old Brad Carr, who was released by Wolves, on trial. As with Nelson, he needs some work – his stamina and first touch aren’t the greatest. But he’s at an age where these things can be worked on. He’s on trial for a month, so we’ll see if he earns a place.
On the scouting front, I’ve sent them out to find a left back and young prospects. The former is desperately needed, the latter to make use of the amazing youth facilities Sunderland have.
I have decided to get that left back and scout for a new goalkeeper, spend a decent fee for both and then dump the rest of the £4 million transfer budget in to balancing the wages. I can’t see Cattermole leaving, I can’t see other clubs paying those wages for a pretty average player. So, I will have to work with what I have.
It’s back to the money. I feel I may have created issues for the future though.
Maja signed a new two year deal, which I’d hope to renew next summer. However, I allowed a £10 million minimum release clause.
22 year old Lynden Gooch also signed a new two year deal. This time with a £6.25 million minimum release clause. He’s another young player who has lots of potential.
My fear is that I have sold the club short on those release clauses. To be honest, I’ve never had players at this level who could command a decent fee. Those numbers sounded good to me (with Maja I did increase it from £6 million). In hindsight, I am not so sure.
The injury situation, which I inherited, is frustrating. However, when these players return the squad will be massively improved and I can’t wait to see what they can do.
The young players are so far living up to my expectations. It is early days though, so I shouldn’t get my hopes up.
I may have screwed the future finances of the club with those release clauses – not sure we’d be able to replace those players with similar for those fees.
Lee Cattermole is never going to leave is he?