How Ross McCormack's Sunderland deal fell through, Zlatan Ibrahimovic on loan list and surprise transfer target revealed by Netflix documentary

Simon Grayson's dismay at Sunderland's failure to land Ross McCormack has been revealed - with the former manager disappointed in Martin Bain's decision-making.

Monday, 10th December 2018, 2:34 pm
Updated Monday, 10th December 2018, 2:40 pm
Ross McCormack
Ross McCormack

The second episode of Netflix documentary ‘Sunderland ‘Til I Die’ offers a revealing insight into the Black Cats’ chase for a striker and how Bain ultimately pulled the plug on a deal for McCormack - one of then-manager Grayson’s top targets.

WATCH: The brilliant trailer for the Netflix series Sunderland 'Til I DieAnd there is also news of surprising transfer target for Grayson, who was desperately searching for a new striker in his one and only window in charge of the club.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

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After a summer of transition on and off the field, it was hoped that the Black Cats would strengthen considerably over the summer months.

Great emphasis was placed on deadline day but, while Grayson was able to bring in three new faces, a deal for a striker proved elusive.

Grayson had been keen on a deal for Aston Villa frontman McCormack and, as revealed in the documentary, was alerted to the potential that a deal could be done late on during deadline day - prompting a ‘hell for leather’ drive for his signature.

But after talks progressed, chief executive Bain halted the deal due to financial reasons - a move which left Grayson seething.

“Five minutes after [thinking the deal was on], Martin comes in and tells me the news I didn’t want to hear,” said the former Sunderland boss.

“When somebody like Ross comes available, who signed for Fulham for £12million, a recognised striker who scores, then you get them over the line.

“We’ve not been able to bring in players that maybe Sunderland supporters expected.

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Bain, though, argued his case and said he was trying to protect the club’s interests.

“The club desperately needed a striker, I completely get that,” said Bain. “When it came to the transfer, the financial terms were completely different from Villa’s perspective and the wrong thing to do in the transfer window is jump in and commit to a lot of money.

“We don’t go out and splash cash. It’s not the thing to do.”

Another deal on the cards during a hectic deadline day was for Joseph Mendes - a French striker who, at that point, plied his trade for Reading.

Mendes, who netted just three goals during his time at the Madjeski Stadium, was in talks with the Black Cats before the deal for McCormack became an option.

And the club were frantically trying to get Mendes to Farnborough airport to facilitate his transport to the North East ahead of securing an agreement. But the deal ultimately fell through, leaving Grayson without the striker he craved.

Meanwhile, episode two also reveals the haphazard transfer policy of Sunderland at the time.

"Why am I looking at the Ibrahimovic at the bottom of this list?" asks Bain in a meeting with recruitment chiefs Neale McDermott and Jimmy Sinclair.

The Swedish striker, who had been released by Manchester United in the same summer, featured on a list handed to the Black Cats’ former chief executive as the club looked to identify transfer targets.

So while a link with Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have been in jest, it did mean the Wearsiders were identifying targets well outside their price range - in what proved to be a waste of time and resource.

“You’ve done this in terms of profiling the types of loans, for example, with not understanding what the wage budget might be,” said Bain, speaking in a recruitment meeting which features in the second episode of the series. So you’re a little bit in the dark, aren’t you?

“For the club’s circumstances it won’t make sense, because you’ve looked at six [players] in the Premier League, but it’s unlikely that we’re going to attract six Premier League players.”

The episode also focuses on a scouting trip undertaken by former chief scout, Sandy Miller, and Grayson’s assistant, Glynn Snodin.

The pair took in a game between Scunthorpe United and Fleetwood Town, where Snodin critiqued a player for wearing gloves during the summer months.

“He’s got gloves on, it’s not even cold,” said the former assistant manager.

“It’s not cold. He’ll want two pairs on in Sunderland.”

Who Sunderland were watching is not specified, but the Black Cats were previously linked with a move for winger Hakeeb Adelakun when he played for the Iron.