THERE were plenty of candidates for Sunderland’s worst signing of the season, but, as far as fans were concerned, one player towered head and shoulders above the rest.
Step forward, Jozy Altidore.
The American international (pictured) was one of only two players out of a dozen signings last summer that Sunderland paid big money for.
Altidore cost £6.5million, as did Emmanuele Giaccherini, but neither delivered on the expectations their price tags carried.
And while the Italian did at least compensate with goals and assists from midfield, Altidore had the toughest of seasons – struggling to impress both on and off the ball.
He scored only two goals all season – only one in the league – and his workrate and contribution in holding up the ball were regularly criticised.
When Sunderland contested the Capital One Cup final in March, his stock had sunk so low he was left out of the squad altogether.
And he finished the season as a bit-part player, being used as a substitute rather than a first-team starter.
Fans gave him the fairest crack of the whip – not turning on him as his goal drought extended for game after game.
But even the supporters patience eventually evaporated on the back of one too many opportunities missed.
And the upshot was, when the question was asked in our survey: “Who was the most disappointing signing of the season?” Altidore polled more votes than any of the other candidates PUT TOGETHER.
But who else was in the frame for poorest signing?
In clear second place was Cabral – the player predicted to be Sunderland’s box-to-box midfield dynamo.
Cabral was indeed a disappointment. He made only two appearances – against Fulham and MK Dons in August and none after that.
The former Basle man was not able to work his way back into the side after that opening month and in January he was loaned to Serie A side Genoa, but was only involved in seven games for the Italian outfit before the close of the season.
Only two other signings featured on the radar for disappointing arrivals – Modibo Diakite and Nacho Scocco.
Diakite, like Cabral, was a player who arrived at Sunderland last summer with much expected of him.
He was expected to take that Wes Brown-Titus Bramble mantle of imposing, effective, commanding centre-half, but it never worked out that way for the Frenchman, who made just seven starts for the Wearsiders before being loaned out to Serie A side Fiorentina.
Scocco remains part of Sunderland’s plans, but that didn’t disguise the fact that so much was expected of the alleged Argentine ace but so little was delivered.
The striker made eight appearances for Sunderland, following his January arrival, but failed to score and, like Altidore, the letdown was not only that he failed to score but that he rarely looked like doing so and rarely looked like setting up a team-mate either.
They weren’t the only disappointments, of course.
There were honourable, or should that be dishonourable mentions (?), for Valentin Roberge, El-Hadji Ba, Charis Mavrias, Giaccherini and David Moberg Karlsson.
But nothing compared to Altidore. He was in a league of his own with fans when it came to a signing who simply didn’t make the grade.