Sunderland sporting director on the balance of keeping players happy and protecting the club

Sunderland’s sporting director Kristjaan Speakman has provided an insight into the balance he tries to strike in keeping players happy while also protecting the club.

Monday, 6th June 2022, 6:00 am

Sunderland, who are gearing up for a return to the Championship, are blessed with some highly-rated and coveted younger players at the Stadium of Light.

And he insists the club will always want determined and ambitious players who want to play at the highest level possible.

When asked about the club’s younger talent, the likes of Dan Neil, Anthony Patterson and Elliot Embleton, Speakman said: “From our contractual status and planning, we have got players that are on contracts where it’s Sunderland’s decision what happens to those players to a certain degree.

Sunderland are heading to the Championship.

“We are constantly negotiating with players.

"You want happy players in the club to obviously then perform but ultimately we are putting ourselves in position where we are protecting the club. We are looking after the players and therefore everyone is happy.

“We want players that want to play at the highest level.

"I’ve got no issue with players in League One saying they want be in the Championship or players saying ‘if we are going to be stuck in League One, I want to move to the Championship’.

"They are the players you want. You don’t want the players that are happy just doing what they are normally doing.

“We have got to try and service them with having the club in the right league.

"At the minute, that puts us in the box seat.”

Speakman added: “Hopefully in a few years, we’re going to be talking about Premier League teams taking our players and we have got to try and get in the Premier League to keep those players again.

“There are some really talented individuals regardless of age in our squad that I think are going to be really important for us next year.”

Sunderland won promotion to the Championship thanks to their 2-0 League One play-off final win over Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley a fortnight ago.

The players are currently enjoying their pre-season break ahead of a return to training later this month.