There’s the odd moment in chatting with Dick Advocaat when he reminds you what a wily old fox he is in this management game.
Twelve months ago, Gus Poyet showed the subtlety of a Californian bear in charging head-first into a very public battle-cry for more signings... and quickly.
Not for a minute does Advocaat believe that Sunderland’s summer recruitment drive has already reached its climax
It was a cynical move from Poyet aimed at harnessing his then support on the terraces after performing the impossible in keeping Sunderland in the Premier League.
But Ellis Short didn’t forget the remarks, nor the ranting and raving phone calls. Ultimately, they contributed to Poyet’s downfall.
After the friendly defeat against Club de Futbol Pachuca in the hours of yesterday morning, Advocaat went for a much more diplomatic tact.
Yes, he would speak with Short next week over further transfer spending, but if there was nothing left in the coffers, well, so be it.
Not for a minute does Advocaat believe that Sunderland’s summer recruitment drive has already reached its climax after four new additions.
But the softly-softly approach is not going to antagonise Short.
The Sunderland owner, who shares the vision for quality recruits who immediately improve the side, will simply want to know that more of his money will not be wasted.
Yet even if Advocaat gets the “one or two” fresh faces that he is looking for, is that even enough to prevent another season of struggle for Sunderland?
Yes, it’ s only pre-season and yes, results and performances are largely irrelevant at this stage, but there has not been a lot of encouragement from Sunderland’s two friendlies in California.
Sunderland played well for the opening 20 minutes against Pachuca, but other than that, against both the Mexican outfit and the previous friendly defeat to Sacramento, the Black Cats have been distinctly second best.
Advocaat’s men have looked leggy and off-the-pace, although that is understandable given the regime of daily double training sessions in the Californian heat, following a behemoth journey to reach the west coast of America.
The reunion with Adam Johnson, Sebastian Coates and Patrick van Aanholt, plus the arrival of new signings Jeremain Lens and Younes Kaboul improves things.
The quintet should all be involved in Wednesday’s friendly against Toronto after they were the advance party to travel here to Canada.
But Sunderland clearly still need a midfield creater and a striker capable of both holding the ball up and offering a goal threat (always easy finding those in the transfer market...).
Advocaat might need more though.
The uncertainty over Johnson’s legal situation could leave Sunderland in need of another winger at the end of the window.
And there is no natural back-up for van Aanholt in Advocaat’s ranks.
Billy Jones or Adam Matthews can play left-back, but both are slightly shoe-horned into the picture there. Let’s face it, they’re natural right-backs.
Now, Sunderland are not operating on a limitless budget and they will surely use the loan market at some stage this summer.
But Short’s discussions with Advocaat HAVE to result in extra transfer funds forthcoming, even if the 67-year-old is reluctant to publicly declare that himself.