Why Jack Rodwell's exit is so significant for Sunderland and the new regime

The Sunderland squad were visiting the Nissan plant and Chris Coleman was urging his players to make the most of their careers.

Thursday, 28th June 2018, 11:02 am
Updated Friday, 29th June 2018, 3:46 pm

The Black Cats boss admitted that he had his struggles with some modern players.

His career had been cut short by injury and it was baffling to him that a player would not do whatever necessary to maximise their potential.

Jack Rodwell will leave Sunderland at the end of this month

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Jack Rodwell was not mentioned by name but the inference was clear.

It was that way for much of Coleman's tenure. Rodwell was a cloud that hung over every game, every press conference. Shortly before his departure Coleman sparked a frenzy when he said that he didn't even know where the player was. It was taken out of context, merely a throwaway comment to show that as far as the manager was concerned, it was a non-issue.

But he knew it could never be that way.

The situation had exasperated him from day one and for supporters it was infuriating. In January, a loan move to the Eredivisie was offered but rejected.

Coleman was hoping to build a siege mentality within the squad but how can you create a spirit of togetherness when your biggest earner appears to be coasting?

As managers go the Welshman was a measured, urbane figure but this particular issue made him utterly irate.

The warning signs had been there when earlier in the season, Simon Grayson revealed that Rodwell wanted to relaunch his career in central defence. At the time, Sunderland had an availability crisis in midfield.

Drawing a line under the saga that best summed up the mismanagement of the Premier League era is a significant moment for a club eager to show that it is getting back to basics and starting again.

Financially, it is even more significant.

Rodwell will receive a settlement for the final year of his deal but it will be lower than the wages he would have been paid.

Losing those wages from the bill is a massive shot in the arm as the Black Cats continue to solve the transfer 'jigsaw' that Stewart Donald has talked about.

The Chairman has repeatedly said that the club do not need to sell to buy and in a capital sense that is true. He has, however, spoken of his determination to build a more sustainable club and carrying a top heavy squad, with big earners not contributing, is clearly at odds with that goal.

In the ongoing balancing act to stay ahead of the EFL's SCMP regulations, losing the best part of £2 million from the annual bill is a major shot in the arm and will clear the way for Jack Ross to strengthen.

By the time the squad flies out to Portugal for a training camp he is expected to have brought in a couple more new faces.

Of course, Rodwell is just one part of that outgoing puzzle and in that sense, the Black Cats still have a number of liabilities.

Lamine Kone, Wahbi Khazri, Papy Djilobodji, Bryan Oviedo and Didier Ndong are all players who seem unlikely to contribute next season but have salaries that would drain resources. Donald also raised questions over Lee Cattermole's future last week.

Khazri's future seems likely to be resolved quickly and Oviedo should go too, but with the others it is less clear cut.

Losing Rodwell's wage strengthens their hand.

The Black Cats want to ensure that there are no giveaways this summer and Donald told supporters last week that losing Paddy McNair meant, for example, that they would be able to carry Khazri should an acceptable offer not arrive.

Losing Rodwell, then, is a boost in those ongoing negotiations.

The new regime were prepared for a difficult process in coming to an agreement with Rodwell but in the end it proved to be a simpler process than imagined.

Whether due to the fall in his wages or the acceptance that it was time to move on, Rodwell seemed to have accepted the need to be 'sensible', in the chairman's words.

His time on Wearside will be remembered as a parable for the dangers of Premier League excess.

A signing made because of name rather than footballing logic, a ruinous contract sustainable only in the bubble of top tier TV money.

His departure does not solve all of the ills left behind by successive relegations, but it is a fine place to start.

Jack Ross, for one, will be relieved not to be the latest manager to work with a cloud hanging over him.