David Jones: Seminal week for Sunderland yet transfer masterplan seems confused

Wes Brown must try to stop Sergio Aguero next week
Wes Brown must try to stop Sergio Aguero next week
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This is a seminal week for Sunderland AFC.

I’m pretty sure I shared the same sentiment when I started writing this column 12 months ago, but the sad reality is that really nothing much has changed.

There has though been some good work in this window which I do think will benefit the club in the long term.

Sure, we’re onto our third manager in that time but our perilous position hasn’t altered and the worry is the Black Cats have used up nine lives already and the trapdoor is waiting to swallow us up.

Excuse the mixed metaphors but the point is once again we enter the final week of a transfer window unclear of the objectives, confused about the master plan.

We know that a £100m bounty awaits those clubs who will kick off the 2016/17 season in the Premier League yet while our relegation rivals are spending big, still we wait for any business of real significance on Wearside.

Bournemouth, Newcastle, even Norwich have shown their intentions while Aston Villa’s inactivity tells its own story; why waste more money if you’re going down anyway seems to be their take on the window.

So which way are we going to go? While we hear talk of a move for Andre Ayew, only Jan Kirchhoff and Dame N’Doye have arrived so far and neither featured against the Cherries.

There has though been some good work in this window which I do think will benefit the club in the long term.

I back Big Sam’s decision to reduce the wage bill by allowing first Costel Pantilimon to join Watford, and then to allow Danny Graham to join Blackburn on loan for the rest of the season - though I do wonder what proportion of his wages Sunderland are still paying?

Mannone was inspirational for Sunderland two seasons ago and while Pantilimon probably had the edge in terms of consistency it probably didn’t justify the size of his contract.

With luck others will also head for the exit before the February 1st deadline to enable Sam to strengthen his hand for the run-in.

Sunderland now have a week in which the management can concentrate on improving the squad, the backroom staff can focus on clearing up any niggles the players have been carrying through the crowded festive fixture list and the first team squad can get their minds on Manchester City.

This is not a game to fear: City have been distinctly average on the road, winning 1 of their last 8 in the league; that’s one away win since September, fewer even than Sunderland!

That’s hardly title winning form and remember by the time they pitch up at the Stadium of Light - while Sunderland rest jaded minds and bodies - they will have played a Capital One Cup semi final against Everton and an FA Cup tie away at Villa Park.

Of course they do possess world class talent at the top end of the pitch in Sergio Aguero who has the best goals-to-minutes ratio of any player in the history of the Premier League, one of my favourite players this season Kevin De Bruyne and the elusive Spaniard David Silva who in truth has lacked his usual impact since returning from injury but their defence is bizarrely vulnerable given how much it cost to assemble.

And without Vincent Kompany they lack leadership and direction.

It says much about our league this season that despite City’s problems they remain favourites to lift the title.

If Sunderland stand off them next Tuesday, City will cruise to the three points but a dynamic aggressive approach would seriously test the character of Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Aguero enjoyed his last visit to the Stadium of Light but this time will find himself up against two proud former Manchester United defenders in John O’Shea and Wes Brown.

I was surprised to see 35-year-old Brown earn a new deal in the summer but his experience alongside the dependable O’Shea has been an interesting solution for Allardyce while Younes Kaboul remains sidelined and Kirchhoff finds his feet.

Both are approaching the end of their careers and neither proud man will want their CVs tarnished with relegation to the Championship.

Let’s hope they have one or two new team-mates to help them tackle Manchester City before it’s too late.