Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong saga depressing but Sunderland are right to act

Charlie Methven's comment at his introductory press conference, about a party and its swift conclusion, went down so well with supporters that A Love Supreme fanzine made a t-shirt out of it.

Wednesday, 12th September 2018, 4:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th September 2018, 4:27 pm
Papy Djilobodji in action for Sunderland

The decision to serve Papy Djilobodji notice of his contract will be welcomed by supporters as the latest sign that the new ownership will not let Sunderland be taken for a ride, whether it be by players, agents or other clubs.

Almost all will hope that a similar fate awaits Didier Ndong.

Papy Djilobodji in action for Sunderland

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Certainly Sunderland's swift action is to be applauded.

They have been ruthless in dealing with the last remnants of Premier League excess and it was refreshing that they gave short shrift to the suggestion the pair could return and push for a place in the first team.

Jack Ross will certainly be grateful of that having worked so hard to build a sense of togetherness at the Academy of Light.

Still it is far from a perfect solution, for any party.

This decision essentially means that Sunderland have accepted that they will not make any money on Djilobodji's departure.

That is a galling reality to face when you consider that the 29-year-old is one of the most expensive defenders ever to arrive on Wearside. He is yet another pricey acquisition to leave having failed on the pitch and with his value at rock bottom.

Stewart Donald and his ownership team cannot change the past, however, and focus only on the future.

The days of £8 million signings seem a long way away now but should they return, the Black Cats will have to ensure their recruitment processes are far more stronger and far more focused than they were under Ellis Short.

Quite how this situation benefits the players is unsure, too, and for that they have only themselves to blame.

Earlier in the summer, a release on a free would have been a perfect scenario (remember Stewart Donald saying that Wahbi Khazri's agent had asked for a similar scenario).

They would have been free to move easily and with the chance to make significant income in signing fees and wages.

Now, however, Djilobodji will not be able to join another club until January even if his exit is rubber-stamped.

When he does, he will have missed out on substantial earnings and will be months away from being full fit.

He may also face the threat of further legal action from Sunderland.

Whether the Black Cats decide to go down that avenue is one of the big questions for supporters now.

It is an unprecedented scenario and Sunderland will have to weigh up the potential money they could recoup with the potential legal costs and the prospect of a long, drawn-out case that will continue to dominate headlines and potentially deflect from much of the positive work happening to rebuild the club.

Chairman Donald will be keen to fight Sunderland's corner either way.

The case with Didier Ndong remains unresolved and is more disappointing in many ways.

While Djilobodji is a player of limited ability Ndong, poor for Sunderland though he may have been, has the potential to be an energetic, effective midfielder in an era when pressing and interceptions are highly valued.

He has had some excellent opportunities this summer, to move to big clubs and magnificent cities, but for whatever reason is being held back.

Perhaps the wider game needs to dwell on that rather depressing reality.

This saga is, you suspect, far from over.

Particularly with Ndong, they will point to the fact that Torino were prepared to pay in excess of £7 million for his services only months ago as a sign that they would deserve compensation should 'repudiatory breaches' continue in his case.

Whatever happens next, the new regime have at least shown that they will not allow the club to walked over.

Fans will grateful for that, and supportive if the club decides to pursue further action.

Whether that is the most effective avenue is the next big decision for Donald and his fellow directors to make.