Sunderland on the brink of a transformative summer as Bryan Oviedo underlines how much needs to be done

Sunderland appear to be a club on the brink of major change.

Wednesday, 2nd May 2018, 12:22 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd May 2018, 12:26 pm
Bryan Oviedo will miss the clash with Burton Albion
Bryan Oviedo will miss the clash with Burton Albion

Stewart Donald waits for EFL approval on his proposed takeover, but he is confident that he will get it.

The sale of his current club Eastleigh looks likely to happen without a hitch and so there are few remaining obstacles to that process.

Of course, the identity of his backers in the ‘international consortium’ remains unknown and until that changes, it is impossible to predict how things will move forward for Sunderland.

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The latest set of Sunderland’s accounts, covering the club’s final season in the Premier League, are due to be released imminently and they will underline the scale of Short’s investment in the club, even if that did not translate to investment in the playing squad.

It is an almighty burden to take on and supporters will hope that Short has proved good to his word in handing over the club to someone capable of driving it forward.

Donald, for his part, has already said that he believes he can provide a ‘competitive budget’ for the club and has moved to suggest on twitter that his reserves are worth far than the £8.4 million mooted.

What is becoming increasingly clear is that Donald will have a central role in the running of the club moving forward.

Engaging with supporters on social media, doing co-commentaries for local radio, it promises to be a dramatic change from the silence that has been Ellis Short’s absentee ownership over the previous two years.

Of course, the sheer size of this club and the scrutiny that follows will mean he has to adapt, but such visibility and engagement will be well received by the Black Cat fan base.

He has admitted that he is walking into a ‘big job’, an understatement.

On Monday, Bryan Oviedo was the first player to admit he would be keen to leave the club, talking to the Costa Rican media ahead of a World Cup summer.

He was respectful about the ‘great club’ he plays for, but honest enough to admit that the physicality of the league will not suit him.

While he has impressed in the Championship in patches, he has been part of a wretched defensive unit that has not been fit for purpose and so will not be missed.

In truth, Sunderland will be equally keen to off-load him. He is one of few saleable assets and given that he signed in the Premier League era, is unlikely to see his wages cut automatically as a result of relegation to League One.

He is one a few in that category and regardless of Donald and his investors’ reserves, taking those kinds of wages into League One is simply not practical.

Donald has lost (by choice, it seems) in Chris Coleman a manager who had already drawn up plans for the transfer window ahead and a vision for a side that could bounce back.

Donald’s decision suggests he has one of his own.

Certainly, the club he inherits is clearly one that has been drifting for some time and without Coleman and Symons, the infrastructure for building a team and a squad is not strong.

On every level, it is going to be a significant step up for Donald.

Oviedo’s comments serve as a reminder of the drastically different environment in which Sunderland will be operating going forward.

Should he be approved by the EFL, it will be Donald’s biggest challenge in football by some distance.

Bryan Oviedo will be just one figure in what is likely to be a transformative summer.