The summer transfer window has been a busy period for a number of Premier League managers; none more so than Sunderland boss Steve Bruce.
Since the opening of the transferwindow, Bruce has brought nine new players in to the club, though it is believed his spending may not yet be over. After a promising start to last season, the Black Cats were plagued with a number of injuries and gradually began to slide down the league table.
Though the club was never really drawn in to the relegation battle, questions were raised over both the players and manager, before Sunderland eventually finished the campaign in 10th place.
Youth & Experience
Bruce has seized the opportunity to strengthen his side in nearly every position and has looked to the experience of players like John O’Shea and Wes Brown, while also acquiring the services of the highly rated David Vaughan, Craig Gardner, and Sebastian Larsson.
With the departure of Darren Bent last season, Bruce has also brought in two young forwards in Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-Won to bolster his attacking options, and after a loan spell at the club last year, Ahmed Elmohamady has also made his move the North East permanent.
There seems to be some sense of surprise among many regarding the number of players that have been brought over to Wearside, but when we take in to account the players that Sunderland will be missing from last season, the necessity of acquiring these players becomes apparent, especially if the club are going to break in to the top half of the table again this campaign.
Recalling Loan Talent
A number of key players that were at the club last season were only on loan, and have now returned to their parent clubs in time for the new campaign. Sunderland will be without the likes of John Mensah and Nedum Onuoha who were both instrumental all season in defence, while Danny Welbeck has returned to Manchester United despite Steve Bruce’s best attempts to re-sign the goalscorer on loan for another year.
Letting Players Go Who Don’t Want To Be There
Sulley Muntari has also returned to Inter Milan and though the midfielder only joined the Black Cats in January, he quickly became a regular starter at the club and would have needed replacing.
On top of these loan players leaving, Sunderland did of course lose Darren Bent back in January, and allowed Jordan Henderson to join Liverpool at the start of the transfer window. Steed Malbranque is the latest ‘regular’ at the club to seek his football elsewhere after completing his move to Saint-Etienne for an undisclosed fee last week.
It seems then, that while Steve Bruce has been branded as one of the ‘big-spenders’ in the market, the number of players that he would not have had this season has been overlooked. The signings made so far have been essential with so many first team players leaving the Stadium of Light, and while Bruce be taking a bit of a risk on players like Connor Wickham, he has also looked to players with a wealth of Premier League experience to help boster his side, and improve on the season the club had last time around.
In Craig Gardner Sunderland have found almost an ideal replacement for Jordan Henderson and if he, as well as others, can replicate the kind of form that they have shown at their former clubs, then Sunderland are likely to become a side more concerned with what is happening above them in the league table, than what is happening down at the bottom.
One thing is certain: these players that have been brought in are essential to Sunderland’s chances of progressing as a club, and it should therefore not come as a surprise that Bruce has wasted little time in making such signings – he may not even be finished yet.