Sunderland signing’s a statement of intent

Jack Rodwell
Jack Rodwell
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GUS POYET’S body language is usually just as important as his words, when it comes to drawing conclusions from the Sunderland boss, writes Chris Young

Poyet is an expressive guy.

He cannot help a smile, shake or nod of the head when answering a question, and that usually tells its own story.

On Saturday night, Poyet was like a kid at Christmas when asked about transfers.

It’s easy to see why now.

The imminent £10million signing of Jack Rodwell is a HUGE statement of intent from Sunderland and owner Ellis Short.

Considering more than half of Sunderland’s Premier League competitors were chasing the hugely talent, if injury-prone, Manchester City midfielder, it is a real feather in the cap for the Black Cats.

If the smile which accompanied Poyet’s answer to the subsequent questions about Fabio Borini is anything to go by, then this could be a defining week in Sunderland’s history, let alone their season. Certainly, the Uruguayan has always seemed positive in the very-public pursuit of the Liverpool forward.

Rodwell provides that element of quality which has been too scarcely scattered around Sunderland’s squad over the last two or three years.

The 23-year-old was an England regular in-the-making before his wide-eyed move to the finances and glory at the Etihad turned nauseatingly sour.

What a deal this will be for Lee Congerton’s stock too. Those question marks over the new Sunderland sporting director will suddenly disappear in an instant.

Rodwell’s signing puts a completely different complexion on Sunderland’s summer business.

While the Black Cats will still require another four or five signings, all of the new recruits look to be an upgrade on their predecessors, and in Rodwell’s case, a significant one.

Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt are more comfortable going forwards than Phil Bardsley or Marcos Alonso - a crucial factor when it comes to Poyet’s strategy.

Costel Pantilimon is a far greater threat - if not replacement - to Vito Mannone’s place.

Jordi Gomez will be more comfortable in a possession-based philosophy than Craig Gardner.

And Rodwell has the dynamic ability to get from box-to-box which Jack Colback struggled to add to his game consistently, even if Sunderland would ideally liked to have kept the Newcastle United man.

The only reservation over Rodwell is his fitness record.

Since moving to Manchester City in a £12million deal two years ago, the former Everton man has been plagued by persistent hamstring problems.

He swapped his low-riding sports car, moved closer to Manchester and even changed pillows in a bid to emerge from the injury nightmare, but with little obvious reward.

City clearly lost patience and after making the last of his Premier League appearances as a late substitute in April’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland, the champions decided to get some of their money back by touting him around this summer.

Rodwell needs to move. He needs to hope that regular first-team football will eradicate the niggles, as it has done with Sunderland defender Wes Brown.

Sunderland’s management of Brown’s fitness will give Poyet hope that Rodwell can be a regular presence in the side next season.

With such a lofty investment, Sunderland can ill-afford anything else.

However, Rodwell has been able to participate fully in Man City’s pre-season and Poyet will be confident that his fitness coach, Antonio Pintas, can work the same magic that he has done with Brown.

After all, those concerns can wait for another day. For now, Poyet can enjoy the promise of what could be a real transfer coup.