Let’s hope Sunderland handle keeper recruitment better this time around

Jason Steele.
Jason Steele.

Rightly famed for their stoicism, Sunderland fans applied this quality upon hearing of their club’s failure to hold on to the services of goalkeeper Jason Steele.

Indeed, a failure to hold things was the defining feature of Jason’s time on Wearside. He has now taken this talent to Brighton. I know it was a free transfer, but we have to wonder what Chris Hughton was watching.

One of the dimmer decisions made by Sunderland – dim even by their own standards of recent years – was to sell Vito Mannone and ‘replace’ him with Steele. Mannone wasn’t top drawer either. But compared with what followed…

By contrast, extricating Steele, even at a £500,000 loss, is pragmatic. The club avoids paying him for the three remaining years on his contract.

More importantly he will never play for Sunderland again. A footballer as well as financial liability is removed.

No one responsible for selling Mannone and filling the vacancy with rubbish has ever had the gumption to admit to a mistake that had huge repercussions.

It was fitting that the Steele era should end with some valedictory prattle from the man himself, about Sunderland ‘going through a tough period’ and him not playing enough games.

It seemed more than enough from where I was sitting. Even the most prolific bedwetter would keep more clean sheets than Jason.

He would have been due a smidgeon of respect had he admitted that the tough period was created in part by his own incompetence.

Oh well. Past is past; and think what you will of Steele (although public opinion of him shows little fluctuation), he still needs replacing.

In fact, the need to recruit generally is rather more urgent than at most other clubs. It’s early days and a new squad can’t be acquired in a snap. Yet the fans are entitled to feel a little twitchy.

Alim Öztürk’s arrival means Sunderland have 21 current players with a reasonable amount of first team experience. But this includes the popular Jack Rodwell, as well as Khazri, Ndong, Djilobodji and several others likely to leave before August 4.

In other words, they barely have a starting 11.

Over to you Mr Ross. We hope you know what you’re doing and that you do it sharpish.

No pressure.


Back at the World Cup and England’s 6-1 thumping of a gormless Panama side was fun, even if it wasn’t a landmark result.

The game was there to be enjoyed. Although not by everyone.

The tournament always draws out a certain type of dullard who has no time for football.

Not liking the game is fine. The problem is with people who expect a round of applause for disliking it.

Before yesterday’s game I was in a busy petrol station shop at Sainsbury’s. Before me was a gentleman, speaking loudly about the World Cup so as to benefit mankind generally.

Original thought long since bludgeoned, he reckoned: “I’d rather walk the dog ha! ha! ha! … Millionaires kicking a ball about … the women don’t roll around on the pitch like that … I used to play rugby … proper men ha! ha! ha! … respect the referee …”

Etcetera. No dreary cliché was left unused.

People like that should be denied Nectar points. Tough, but it’s the only language they understand.

I could go on (why not, he did). But I shall confine my response to the following.

Footballers don’t fabricate agonising injuries because they’re soft or weedy.

They fabricate agonising injuries because they’re dishonest. Get it right.