Chris Young: Deadline day was dull, but Sunderland’s transfer window has been positive

Steven Fletcher in action for Sunderland against Leicester City. Picture by FRANK REID
Steven Fletcher in action for Sunderland against Leicester City. Picture by FRANK REID
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Based on the dramatic overhaul of Sunderland’s squad in the preceding weeks of the January transfer window, it was somewhat surprising that deadline day proved to be a damp squib on Wearside.

Sunderland were never going to be throwing an open chequebook around after splashing out £14million last week to land Lamine Kone and Wahbi Khazri.

Yet Sam Allardyce had still been expected to add one last face to his squad, with the Sunderland manager’s month-long search for a new right-back ultimately coming to nought.

Despite enquiries for Mathieu Debuchy and Micah Richards, Sunderland were unable to tick that box.

Neither did the Black Cats land a striking replacement for the departed Steven Fletcher, who left for the relative pittance of a loan fee - three-and-a-half years after the club splashed out £12m on the Scotland international.

Like Craig Gardner and Danny Graham, Fletcher is another one of those big-money investments over recent seasons who will bring no sell-on dividend.

Fletcher’s time at Sunderland will be remembered as ‘what might have been’ after the ex-Wolves man could never find the consistency or necessarily application to match the talent that was evidently there.

Getting rid of Fletcher - out-of-contract next summer - at least saves a few quid on the wage bill and pays for the big outlay on Khazri.

Fabio Borini is more than capable of filling in as a central striker too, if both Jermain Defoe and Dame N’Doye are absent.

The inability to land another striker is less of a blow than the failure to sign a right-back, with neither Billy Jones or DeAndre Yedlin particularly convincing this season.

But looking at the big picture, the overhaul of Sunderland’s squad in this window has generally been a positive one, particularly considering the problems in recruiting players to a side lying second bottom of the pile.

There will always be players willing to move to the Premier League, yet for those in the relegation battle, those potential recruits rarely have the desired quality or mentality.

Judging by the opinion on Kone and Khazri on the other side of the Channel, the pair of imports from Ligue 1 will both add something to Sunderland’s squad.

Sunderland have needed a physical, pacy centre-half to complement the experience in the heart of their back four for years, while Khazri has the promise to inject a spark of quality and creativity into the front-line.

On the basis of N’Doye’s contribution for Hull in the relegation dogfight last season, the Senegal international should provide competent cover for Defoe.

And with Kone arriving, there is less haste for Jan Kirchhoff to be rushed into the fray after his lack of match fitness was brutally exposed at White Hart Lane.

Just as important as the incomings this month, have been the outgoings.

Sunderland needed to shift players to bring others in, but they also needed to get rid of those who were simply a drain on the club’s bank account; the likes of Liam Bridcutt, Will Buckley and Charis Mavrias, that were making no contribution whatsoever.

That prompts the question why Sunderland couldn’t offload the trio, plus Jordi Gomez, Danny Graham or Fletcher, during the summer.

In a month, Allardyce has managed what Lee Congerton was unable to do and shift a good chunk of the dead-wood, with only forgotten man Valentin Roberge remaining.

Ex-boss Dick Advocaat could also be forgiven for asking where the £15m or so spent in this window was in the summer?

If there’d been a few extra quid to invest in quality signings before a ball was kicked, would Sunderland be in such a perilous situation?

Sunderland have at least been one of the bigger Premier League spenders this month, and needed to be, with Norwich, Bournemouth and Newcastle all splashing the cash.

But with just 15 games to go, Sunderland have to hope that investment has not come too late.