Sunderland have signed Titus Bramble from Wigan in a deal worth around £1million. Formerly of ‘Newcastle flop’ fame, it seems a slightly strange move; but is he a worthy signing or a worthy proprietor of the ‘flop’ label?
Certainly, Bramble has long lived with ‘Titus Shamble’ style tags thrust around his stout neck. Much of this is clearly owing to his time on Tyneside.
Bramble signed for Newcastle from Ipswich for £5million in 2002. Tipped as a potential England international, he actually notched up a considerable stay at St James’ Park – five seasons – and occasionally put in a solid display. However, this was far outweighed by his myriad mistakes. Hashed clearances, mistimed tackles, switching off, losing concentration, he soon became an unfortunate epithet for ‘calamity’
His bemused face and hands on hip stance became a frustratingly regular sight, whilst the infamous partnership with Boumsong confounded Newcastle’s defensive dystopia.
Bramble was duly released in 2007.
All of which suggests he could be regarded as an all-time dud, and – especially given these adverse Tyneside links – a particularly peculiar signing for Sunderland.
However, as Steve Bruce has quickly pointed out, Titus turned things around at Wigan:
“He made some mistakes, but people forget he was part of an excellent Newcastle side which always played in Europe.
“He was absolutely outstanding for me for two years at Wigan and it is a fantastic deal for this football club. He was player of the year in my last year there and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him.
“He is a big powerful defender who has played in the Premier League all his life. From about 18 or 19, he has been playing in the top flight.
“He has done extremely well over the last couple of years and I think he is going to be a big success at Sunderland. He was certainly the right player at the right price for me.”
Bruce’s vigorous defence of Bramble must ally some fears; ‘in Bruce we trust’, and so forth. Indeed, Bramble has demonstrated a determined disposition (and not just meant in a patronising ‘oh he’s a brave lad, heart of gold, doing his darndest’ way) in establishing himself once again as a sturdy and valuable first-team player for the Latics.
Given his regeneration, development into a steady performer at Wigan, and duly picking up individual accolades in acknowledgment, Titus should now be given a chance at Sunderland. This is especially so given the cut-price nature of the deal.
Nonetheless, and without throwing any invective Brambles way, you get the feeling greater quality is needed.
Cheap deal and perhaps value for money: yes.
A ‘decent’ defender: yes.
A quality addition ahead of the new season, a signal of intent, real progress: no, no, no.
Indeed, whilst I think Bramble does not deserve the pejorative tones he often engenders, I’m not really sure he’s what Sunderland require at this juncture to push on and offer reassuring signs of advancement.
Moreover, strengthening at left-back is of greatest urgency but, as yet, forthcoming.
But, do you think he’s a worthwhile signing?
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