Sunderland’s sporting director Kristjaan Speakman was appointed back in December 2020.
In his nearly two years at the Academy of Light, the former Birmingham City man has overseen a radical overhaul of the club’s playing squad with the Wearsiders focusing on their academy, and buying young players to be nurtured and blooded in the first team.
It is a strategy that has produced results, with Speakman providing a squad that Alex Neil managed to brilliantly turn into promotion winners following Lee Johnson’s under-achievement.
However, with any recruitment strategy, there are pros and cons.
Indeed, Speakman has been criticised in some quarters for not providing Sunderland with enough depth, as evidenced by the injuries to Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms, leaving Tony Mowbray without any senior strikers.
Here, though, we drill down into every signing sanctioned by Speakman since his arrival at the club and rate them from one to ten.
1. Ross Stewart
The big striker was spotted by Lee Johnson and brought to Sunderland under Kristjaan Speakman as Charlie Wyke's replacement. Stewart has been a magnificent addition since his arrival and is one of the standard bearers for the current recruitment models. 10/10
Photo: Stu Forster
2. Carl Winchester
Winchester proved to be a decent signing for Sunderland after being plucked from Forest Green Rovers. Another player Lee Johnson was familiar with. "Winniesta" helped Sunderland to promotion and turned in some battling performances in midfield, right back and right centre-back. Every team needs players like Carl Winchester. 7/10.
Photo: Alex Burstow
3. Jordan Jones
Produced some moments of real quality but lacked consistency and was part of a team that ultimately failed to get promoted during his six-month loan deal. The logic in the transfer was clear to see but it just didn't quite work out in the end. 5/10.
Photo: Bryn Lennon
4. Jake Vokins
Vokins was brought in as cover but largely struggled due to injury and covid issues. Again, the logic of signing the player was clear: a young, hungry and talented player to push the first team. However, it didn't happen for Vokins at Sunderland and he only made four league appearances. 2/10.
Photo: Naomi Baker