Tony Gillan: Should Sunderland fans be envious of Newcastle United’s transfers?

Steve McClaren and Georginio Wijnaldum
Steve McClaren and Georginio Wijnaldum
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Sunderland are still on the prowl for new signings. Who isn’t? You never know; maybe they don’t need to sign anyone else.

 Dick Advocaat’s record thus far is 12 points from nine games. This is 1.33 points per game. Extrapolated over a season this would be 51 points and a top half finish. A slight further improvement would see the lads ringing on the doorbell of Europe. Hurrah.

It would be a dream come true for the player to join a Premier League club. He would think it was his birthday, or at least one of them.

 Yes, when all else fails just relinquish any grasp of reality that you might still have. As we mentioned last week, the circumstances of Ricky Álvarez and Adam Johnson are such that SAFC can’t even know how much money there is to spend. Nor can other clubs be forced to buy the players that Sunderland want rid of (unfair but there you go). As ever, we shall all just have to wait and see what happens.

 It is neither healthy nor helpful to study the transfer activities of other clubs. It’s just that you can’t help it.

 Manchester United have spent a reported £80m this summer. But that is not likely to cause much concern on Wearside, unless anyone round here is barking enough to think that United are Sunderland’s direct rivals.

 New signings at clubs expected to be in the wrong half of the Premier League consist largely of players that hardly anyone in this country has heard of.

 Newcastle for example have enlisted a player from Belgium for £13m and another from Holland for £14.5m. They have been saving up for years and, based on the evidence of last season’s final third, they really can’t afford not to spend.

 Have Newcastle drafted in a Fellaini and a Bergkamp, or a Jon Dahl Tomasson and an Altidore? No one knows whether Sunderland fans should be envious or not, because the Belgian and Dutch leagues are not the greatest. They are unproven players.

 No one at this stage is envious of the quite extraordinarily complex attempted transfer of Chancel Mbemba from Anderlecht to the Sports Direct Arena. It is not clear whether the Congolese will be given a work permit.

 FA rules have been tightened to keep out mediocre foreign players, but not good ones. As Mbemba has only ever played in Africa and Belgium, his quality is yet to be corroborated.

 Also, the issue of Mbemba’s age has been hanging around for some time now. His date of birth does not seem to have been established since the matter was raised in February 2013.

 That was when CNN reported: “Mbemba was registered by his two first Congolese clubs as being born in 1988, according to documents obtained by CNN. Yet for a Cup of Nations qualifier in June 2011, his year of birth was listed as November 30, 1991.

 “Meanwhile, the birth date recorded by his Belgian club Anderlecht is August 8, 1994.

“Just to complicate matters, Mbemba himself, thinks he was born in 1990.”

 Newcastle manager Steve McClaren, 54, is keen to land the player. Mbemba, 20, 23, 25 or 27 wants the move too. It would be a dream come true for the player to join a Premier League club. He would think it was his birthday, or at least one of them.

 As well as being amusing, the Chancel Mbemba situation is an unusually convoluted one. But it does at least illustrate that you can’t necessarily “just go out and sign some players.” Job done. Player waves scarf of new club. Snap, snap. Grin, grin.

 Agreeing terms and then making the transfer? Where would the fun be if life was so simple?