THE pressure on Sunderland to make early breakthroughs in the transfer market increased yesterday when the new fixture list revealed the club would face Liverpool and Newcastle in their opening two games.
The Black Cats have three games before the transfer window shuts at the end of August – Liverpool on August 13, Newcastle on August 20, and Swansea on August 27.
And Sunderland fans hoping to see the team strong enough to do well in all those games will know new faces will need to be in sooner rather than later following the losses of Jordan Henderson (pictured, right) Bolo Zenden, Danny Welbeck, Nedum Onuoha, John Mensah and Sulley Muntari from last season’s squad.
Sunderland have become adept at signings late in the transfer window in recent times because their ability to pay cash up front, rather than negotiate instalments, has persuaded many a club to accept a lower fee than they originally wanted.
Michael Turner and Lee Cattermole arrived late in the window and for much less than their selling clubs first wanted, while Sunderland’s wealth eventually forced Rennes to sell record signing Asamoah Gyan on the last day of last season’s transfer window.
But Black Cats’ fans will be understandably keen to see the squad as strong as possible for the opening game against Liverpool – and especially the home derby to Newcastle United.
The games against the Magpies last season were dreadful affairs for Sunderland fans, who still bear the scars.
The 5-1 defeat at St James’s Park was the biggest derby defeat suffered by Sunderland in almost half a century, while the return game at the Stadium of Light also saw Sunderland massively underperform.
This season, Sunderland supporters will be looking to erase those memories and the thought of their team going into the derby still three or four key signings away from squad completion will worry many.