Tony Gillan: New Sunderland signings MUST be given time to settle in

Sunderland signing Younes Kaboul
Sunderland signing Younes Kaboul
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The arrival of Younès Kaboul on Wearside has not exactly left supporters overwhelmed. At best they are just about whelmed.

Kaboul has not played a Premier League game since November, made only 11 league appearances last season and only 25 in the last three seasons. He has been seriously hampered by injuries.

Also unhelpful was the less-than-shrewd comment from his agent Rudy Raba in July 2008, which was unsurprisingly resuscitated when the defender signed last week.

Mr Raba burbled: “Younès wouldn’t join Sunderland even if there was an earthquake. We have more interesting options than Sunderland. Don’t even think about it.”

The correlation between tectonic realignment and the transfer market was never elaborated upon. Nevertheless, the comment may still prove a little hard to stomach for some Sunderland supporters. But the first thing to say in defence of Kaboul is that it was not the player who made the statement but his over-voluble agent.

Even then it was probably just the usual greedy agent’s blather as he attempted to grab an even bigger kick-back from a transfer; sorry, I mean ensure the best possible deal for his client.

We can deduce this because the “more interesting option” that Kaboul took up within a month of that “earthquake” drool was the unbridled glamour of ... er ... Portsmouth.

In December 2009, Kaboul explained that he did not join SAFC because he objected to being simply ordered to move north by Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.

Kaboul said: “Sunderland are a decent club but I do not like people imposing anything on me like you are a dog. Life is not like this.”

So we can safely attach the same credence and significance to Mr Raba’s seven year-old codswallop as we do to most of the statements that leave the slavering lips of football agents. Younès Kaboul himself has never said a bad word about Sunderland so we welcome him to Wearside.

That leaves the issue of his fitness which in recent seasons has been, to say the least, something of an issue. But he has passed a fitness test, which is about all we can go on at present.

What we do know is that he is a pretty decent centre-back if he stays in one piece and at only 29, his best years may be ahead of him – in a Sunderland shirt.

I remember the indifference I felt at the news that Kevin Phillips had joined Sunderland, as well as the ill-founded satisfaction when Alan Stubbs did the same.

Like all new signings, Younès Kaboul deserves a few months at the club before we are qualified to slag him off.

Rarely does anyone pay tribute to a train operator, but Virgin Trains are in line for a seldom delivered pat on the back.

They have managed to obtain something called a fixture list and attended to their customers accordingly.

On their East Coast franchise they now offer to change tickets for free if a game is moved for telly. They also promise more time to board a return train if time is added to a game.

We may say “about time” but at least they’ve done it.

It’s refreshing to see someone in the world of transport looking out for football fans, because no one in the world of football ever seems to bother.