Chris Young: Why Ellis Short will already be delighted with David Moyes
A trans-Atlantic drawl '“ part Californian, part Mackem '“ has been mastered by Lynden Gooch after arriving on Wearside as a wide-eyed 16-year-old.
Chatting to the USA Under-20s forward at the Academy of Light a fortnight ago, Gooch has a genuine affection for Sunderland after coming through the club’s ranks and leaving the west coast at such a young age.
But he has no shortage of belief in his own ability, even if at that stage, he had no knowledge that his Premier League bow was around the corner.
Gooch’s self-confidence shone through during a hugely promising debut at Manchester City, with three teasing deliveries from the by-line which Sunderland failed to capitalise on.
But it was a particularly significant statement from David Moyes to include the 20-year-old’s energy and exuberance in his starting XI. After all, he had £20million or so of investment on the bench in Jeremain Lens and Wahbi Khazi, plus new boy Adnan Januzaj.
That is a BIG sign of things to come at Sunderland.
Moyes has never been afraid to give youngsters a chance in the unforgiving surroundings of the Premier League; Jack Rodwell and Wayne Rooney notably making their debuts under the Scot aged just 16.
The new Sunderland manager is an exception to the rule among the top-flight fraternity in that regard.
Dick Advocaat was particularly reluctant to include regular Under-21 marksman Duncan Watmore during the club’s struggles at the wrong end of the table both last season and during the relegation scrap a few months earlier, with the forward finally given an opportunity almost as a last resort.
Advocaat wanted to loan Watmore out to the Championship, and would have done that if his options had been better or the club in a healthier situation.
But Moyes sees the benefit of youth; the freshness, the energy and the unwavering commitment which comes from homegrown players and is not always matched by those recruited through the transfer market.
Moyes’ track record in player development – and inclusion of Gooch at the Etihad Stadium – will be music to the ears of Ellis Short, who has long been championing a route for the graduates of the club’s academy.
After all, it’s a lot cheaper to unearth a Jordan Henderson than spending £10million in the transfer market.
Realistically, that’s what this club has to do. Regardless of the extra revenue from the new television deal, Sunderland are never going to be able to compete on a financially-level playing field with a Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea.
However, since the crop of Henderson, Jack Colback and Martyn Waghorn, it’s not something Sunderland have done at all well. Those such as John Egan – now successfully plying his trade in the Championship – have been discarded without a penny of recompense.
In part that’s been because no manager has been around long enough in the last five years to actually take a look at a 17-year-old (such as unused substitute last Saturday Joel Asoro) and fast-track him to the first-team picture.
But until the turn of 2016, there has been no joined up thinking.
The U21s were an after-thought for too many managers – Martin O’Neill, Gus Poyet, Paolo Di Canio and Advocaat – who kept them training separately from the first-team squad and only called upon their services to make up the numbers when there was an injury crisis.
Now there’s a pathway though.
The inclusion of formerUnder-21 coaching pair Robbie Stockdale and Paul Bracewell has undoubtedly helped, but now the club’s youngsters regularly train alongside the first-team – far more than they have done at any stage over the last five years.
That’s a massive difference to those emerging through the ranks, who can suddenly see light at the end of the tunnel which reaches towards Premier League football.
Moyes will not purely rely on those who have been at Sunderland since their mid-teens.
He has already made it crystal clear that he also wants to recruit young and hungry players from either the lower leagues or the fringes of other Premier League clubs, that can eventually be moulded into top-flight regulars like Tim Cahill, Joleon Lescott and Seamus Coleman.
The lack of alternatives forced Moyes into handing Donald Love an immediate Sunderland debut at City and the ex-Manchester United man did alright, even if there were evident signs of naivety. But ideally, the 21-year-old will gradually be blooded into Premier League football, rather than being told he has to sink or swim.
Don’t be surprised if Moyes adds another one or two like Love and Paddy McNair before the transfer deadline, even if Sunderland evidently need at least three more senior signings in their midst.
Sunderland are gradually going to become a breeding ground for the young ones.
That is how Moyes plans to build a dynasty akin to his decade at Everton and finally end Sunderland’s pattern of Elastoplast solutions.