SUNDERLAND have been on the back pages throughout the summer – which I always like.
A lot of people who watch Sunderland regularly will have seen that we were a match for anybody last season when we had our best XI out.
The wins against Chelsea and Manchester City told you that.
But we struggled with our strength in depth when the injuries kicked in and we did have horrendous injury problems. It just proved the squad didn’t have the depth required.
That is one of the reasons why Steve Bruce has been so active in the transfer market. It’s not an 11-man game, you need cover in every position.
He has got nine in already with maybe more to come.
And I’m really pleased that we were able to get our business done so early. All the new signings have been pretty much there since day one of pre-season.
It’s amazing what an advantage that is. If you get players in on the last day of the transfer window, like Asamoah Gyan last year, it takes them time to settle.
It is not like Bruce has put all his eggs in one basket either, there is a good mixture among the new signings – the experience of John O’Shea and Wes Brown, the promise and massive potential of Connor Wickham and then players like Seb Larsson, Craig Gardner and David Vaughan who proved themselves in the Premier League last year.
Gardner will give us goals from midfield which has been a big weakness over a number of years, while Larsson will give us an extra dimension from set-pieces.
Bruce has covered most of the bases and addressed a couple of the weaknesses.
Probably the one disappointment of the summer for Sunderland was not being able to sign Charles N’Zogbia after we had tracked him for the best part of two years.
The one area of the team where we still need to strengthen, is to bring in some pace down the left-hand side.
We have brought strikers, midfielders and defenders in, but now Steed Malbranque has gone, we need someone to play on the left.
But it wasn’t to be with N’Zogbia and we have to identify other targets.
There’s still a few weeks of the transfer window to go though and there’s still players who can fill in there.
READ the full column in Tuesday’s Echo