STEVE Bruce admits that when the Echo first revealed Sunderland were chasing Sulley Muntari and Stephane Sessegnon last month, even HE did not think he’d be able to sign both.
The club’s pursuit of the two international stars became public knowledge when the Echo broke the story in early January but Bruce was wishing for both rather than expecting to sign both.
And he is absolutely thrilled to have players on board of the quality of Sessegnon, who joins permanently from Paris St Germain and Muntari who is on loan for the remainder of the season.
The manager enthused: “To sign a player of Sulley Muntari’s quality, that is where we can feel we are going in the right direction.
“When you can attract a player who won the Champions League five months ago, from big clubs in big cities, I didn’t think that would be possible five months ago.
“It shows how well we are doing and how we are trying to go forward as a club.
“To be fair to the boy he has taken a drop in wages and if you look at his record, all he has ever wanted to do is play.
“He wanted to do that this season, but had a fall-out with Rafael Benitez, so it is someone we have been monitoring.
“He can score goals and pick the final pass.
“He is a top player, so to get him here is a statement.
“We know Muntari will light up the Premier League because he has been here before.
“Sessègnon is a player who will light up the stadium.
“Physically, even though he is not that big, he still has the wow factor.
“We have been looking at him for weeks.”
Ironically, the loss of star striker Darren Bent to Aston Villa actually helped Sunderland’s pursuit of their main targets – the shock move focusing the club’s interest strengthening and ensuring and they went after the two players far more aggressively.
“When we lost Bent, we went all out to make the Sessegon move in particular happen,” revealed Bruce.
“He can play on the left, right or off the front man as well.
“His versatility is very useful and if you look at the way we have played against the big teams, we have done better when we have played with only one up front, playing Gyan through the middle and with someone playing off the one striker.”
The Bent move hit Sunderland hard the manager admitted.
“I am not going to paper over it,” he sighed.
“There’s no disputing that we’ve been hit by Darren Bent going.
“But when you lose people like Andy Reid and David Healy and replace them with Muntari and Sessègnon, that tells me we are still trying to go places.
“We are all disappointed with Bent because we never saw it coming, but the club can benefit by me keeping the money for the summer, then trying to get the sort of centre-forward who would be a replacement for him.
“I can’t do that now, so we must be patient.
“I stress that, because I could have brought 10 strikers this month.
“But I am thinking after the next four or five games we will be okay.
“Where can I get people who are better than Danny Welbeck and Fraizer Campbell? And you’ve got to bear in mind that both of them will be fit in four or five weeks.”