Reflecting on Sunderland's summer exits and how those who left are faring at their new clubs

It was another busy summer of squad changes at Sunderland, with a number of senior players leaving the club.

Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 11:45 am
Reece James left Sunderland for Doncaster in the summer

So how are they faring at their new clubs and what does it tell us about whether they made the right call?

Phil Smith takes a closer look….


There was some surprise when Cattermole arrived at VVV-Venlo for a trial, although the midfielder had already spoken publicly of his desire to play abroad.

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Indeed, boss Stan Valckx said it was the ‘easiest’ deal he had concluded in football.

Cattermole has started well, already winning praise for his influence on and off the pitch.

He has been limited to two substitute appearances thus far, with match fitness an obvious issue after missing the pre-season schedule.

On his debut there was a booking for his first foul, but also an exceptional challenge to deny a goal and help his time over the line for a vital win.

It seems certain that he will quickly find his way into the starting XI in the near future.

Verdict: Cattermole’s presence and quality was always going to be a miss this season, particularly given the way he was able to make an impact in the final third.

Sunderland, though, has to balance out their squad, both contractually and in terms of profile.

George Dobson has made a real impression with his athleticism, and the partnerships Ross has picked so far have been effective for the most part.


James almost missed the chance to start the season at Doncaster, subsequently admitting that he had played with nine stitches in his ankle.

That partly explained a slightly shaky start in terms of his form, but he has quickly impressed and has played every minute of every competitive fixture so far this season.

That’s the context for his decision to make the move to the Keepmoat, knowing that his gametime at Sunderland could be limited certainly by Denver Hume and possibly by Bryan Oviedo.

Appears to be growing in confidence and is making an impression going forward as Darren Moore’s side make a positive start to the campaign.

Verdict: There’s no doubt that Sunderland could have done with James in the opening stages of the season.

His performances were largely consistent last year and that dependability would have been useful in what was a problem position.

Hume has looked much better of late, though, and it will not be until we have seen what Laurens De Bock has to offer that this deal can be properly judged. It was clearly not an ideal summer in this position.


Oviedo’s return to FC Copenhagen started with disappointment, as they were dumped out of the Champions League qualifying stages by Red Star Belgrade.

The chance to face Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur in the group stages were lost, and they have been drawn against Dynamo Kiev, Malmo and Lugano in the Europa League.

Oviedo has had a decent amount of gametime since returning, though he faces competition for his place from Pierre Bengtsson.

Copenhagen have recently brought another former Black to the club, with Nicklas Bendtner joining on a free transfer.

Verdict: Though Oviedo showed flashes of his quality last season, producing that wonderful assist for Lynden Gooch on the opening day, his performances did not justify the outlay.

It made sense for all parties to seek a fresh challenge.


Matthews was in action for Charlton Athletic U23s on Monday as he builds his match fitness.

The Welshman landed the move to the Championship after a successful trial period.

Charlton’s head of recruitment said that he had proven his fitness and also fitted the mould that Lee Bowyer was looking for, searching for a primarily attacking full-back to replace Anfernee Dijksteel, who joined Middlesbrough.He will compete with experienced campaigner Chris Solly for a place in the XI when up to speed.

Verdict: Matthews looked good in spells last season but by the end of the season was firmly behind Luke O’Nien in the pecking order.

With Matthews being one of the few players still on a Premier League contract, his exit seemed inevitable and sensible when Sunderland lost to Charlton in May.

Unquestionably a player with attacking quality that could suit Charlton’s system well.


Started last season very much in the frame but injuries curtailed his progress and his exit by mutual consent was again little surprise, particularly given that like Matthews, Love was a Premier League signing.

Love has slotted in well in Shrewsbury Town’s preferred 3-5-2 system and though he is yet to produce in the final third playing a wing-back, his manager Sam Ricketts has been full of praise.

“I think he’s done very well. Every game you can see him improve,” he said.

“He’s probably growing in confidence and I’m really pleased that supporters have taken to him because he’s an easy player that maybe would go under the radar a little bit and no-one really appreciate what he does.

“Like I said when I signed him, he’s a player with terrific talent and he probably just needs a home to flourish.”

Verdict: Love was never likely to feature much under Ross this season and after a difficult couple of years, a fresh start is clearly what was needed for both player and club.


It was a mark of Honeyman’s professionalism and attitude that he was handed the captain’s armband on his first appearance for Hull City, albeit in a heavily rotated Carabao Cup side.

Hull had hoped for better results after keeping hold of Kamil Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen, currently sitting just above the relegation spots.

Honeyman has made a steady start, largely competing with Dan Batty for his spot in the XI.

Has yet to produce in front of goal but is clearly a smart fit for Grant McCann’s pressing heavy 4-3-3 system.

Verdict: Honeyman was an immensely popular figure behind the scenes but with a midfielder needing to move on to balance the squad, his wages and the fact that he could command a fee made him an obvious candidate.

It’s also difficult to see where he would have slotted in to the system Ross is currently playing.

He wasn’t a player Ross would have wanted to lose and he certainly felt he was subject to unfair critcism, but it was a pragmatic move that made sense.


At one stage it looked as if Ruiter would be starting Champions League games, but the return to fitness of Jeroen Zet meant that he has so far been an unused substitute.

Still a quite extraordinary opportunity at this stage of his career.

Verdict: In bringing in a proven League One campaigner, Sunderland have upgraded their options in a financially sensible way. Good business all round.


Yet to sign for a new club and admits he is yet to decide whether he will keep playing.

Belgium and the Netherlands are obvious destinations given his family ties, and if he does decide to retire, it’s thought that he’s interested staying in the game but possibly in the field of recruitment.

Verdict: Never ideal to be ending contracts early on but in allowing the club to land Joel Lynch, it was a sensible call and Loovens said so himself after departing.