Tony Gillan: What Sunderland, Newcastle and Middlesbrough need to do in transfer market

I have made a careful study of what the two big North East clubs, plus Middlesbrough, should be doing in the transfer market over the summer

Tuesday, 24th May 2016, 2:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2016, 9:08 am
Sam Allardyce

My detailed, scientific and in-depth analysis of the situation is now complete.

First up, what amendments should Newcastle look to make to their squad? My answer may intrigue you.

Middlesbrough's Grant Leadbitter and manager Aitor Karanka

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I dunno.

No one knows. It isn’t certain who wants to stay there or leave, or who the club wants to keep. No one can conclude firmly if it’s right to keep the core of the massively salaried current squad together and hope that they will deliver immediate promotion.

Whatever Newcastle do now is a gamble.

Of course, the whole enterprise is made more abstruse by the managerial situation, as Rafa Benitez’s long hard think continues.

Middlesbrough's Grant Leadbitter and manager Aitor Karanka

The situation at Newcastle is so complicated that even the taxi driving community has failed to provide ready answers.

Turning my expertise now to Middlesbrough; what should their priorities be over the summer?

I dunno that either.

Promoted clubs always need to strengthen. Middlesbrough’s problem is that they only have three current players with significant Premier League experience; Stewart Downing, Grant Leadbitter and David Nugent.

All three are the wrong side of 30, Leadbitter hasn’t been in the PL for seven years and Nugent was somewhat lacking in the top league at three different clubs.

There is talent in the Boro squad, but whether or not those players are good enough to play upstairs remains to be seen. So where they need to strengthen is not necessarily obvious.

The situation at Sunderland is the most straightforward. Sam Allardyce will know who he wants to keep and who he wants to dispense with.

The suggestion that Sunderland should “just get some better players” is not as blindingly obvious as you might think.

At Stoke City, they tend to buy players who they know for certain in advance are good enough for the Premier League. They don’t buy superstars, but they don’t buy mugs either and have finished well ahead of Sunderland for the past four seasons.

Sunderland’s ceaseless search for a bargain has cost them a fortune, as they attempt to unearth some hidden jewel for two or three million quid from the likes of Wigan, Brighton, Celtic or wherever.

This has been spectacularly false economy; even the ones who came “free” or on loan were paid astronomical wages.

So there you go. Three teams sorted and there is no need for any of them to thank me.

Running a football club is easy when you have never actually run a football club.