Why Sunderland must reject interest in Millwall target Jon McLaughlin
There is a school of thought Sunderland would still be in the Championship if they had a solid, reliable and commanding goalkeeper between the posts that season.
Robbin Ruiter, Lee Camp and Jason Steele were all given a chance under Simon Grayson and Chris Coleman.
And for a variety of reasons, they all struggled.
Camp, in particular, will go down as one of the worst signings, with Steele not far behind. Both devoid of confidence come the end of a dispiriting campaign that saw the club relegated.
Ruiter, who missed the second half of the season with a severe finger injury, was the only one to remain for League One, with Jon McLaughlin coming in as the new No.1.
And what a revelation he proved. Signed as a free agent, it was a shrewd piece of business and a real coup for Jack Ross, who persuaded him his future lay at Sunderland.
For many he was the outstanding player, alongside Aiden McGeady, in a side that just missed out on promotion, losing the play-off final to Charlton Athletic.
With Sunderland facing up to a second season in the third tier, inevitably the vultures will circle, especially when you consider the club is still trying to cut costs in order to balance the books ahead of the parachute payments running out at the end of this upcoming season.
Millwall continue to monitor McLaughlin’s situation.
Sunderland are said to be considering offering the Scotland international a new and improved three-year deal in a bid to see off any interest.
Tying down McLaughlin to a new deal would be one of the best pieces of business the club could do this summer, with work ongoing to strengthen other areas.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but had McLaughlin been in goal for the Championship campaign there is a strong argument Sunderland would not have been relegated given the amount of points thrown away by Ruiter, Camp and Steele.
McLaughlin was a key piece of the jigsaw last term and with Sunderland not a million miles away from putting together a promotion-winning side, it is vital he remains on Wearside.