It wasn’t the most inspiring transfer window for Sunderland and the squad remains worryingly light on numbers.
The biggest single disappointment is the non-arrival of Yann M’Vila.
The reasons why are about as clear as an agent’s conscience.
I’m not convinced that we have even half the story of M’Vila’s ongoing gardening leave.
Even allowing for the immense wealth of his current club, Rubin Kazan, it seems odd that the Russians are prepared to turn down whatever Sunderland offered, as well as paying the player’s massive salary with no obvious advantage to themselves.
My guess would be that they are making an example with M’Vila to send a “don’t mess with us” message to the wider world.
Reporting on the matter has been interesting.
For example the Sun said on Wednesday: “Yann M’Vila deal finally done as David Moyes manages to get midfielder back on permanent deal.”
The Sun said on Thursday: “Yann M’Vila left ‘heartbroken’ after deadline-day switch to Black Cats falls through.”
This also leads us to doubt the veracity of the widely accepted £8.5m fee that Rubin apparently demanded, because £7m and £5m were also quoted.
Even the highest of those figures is cherry-bobs for such a proven player; so who’s to say that the actual demand was not significantly higher?
Any course of action by SAFC would have been a gamble.
It does seem that they have prioritised the recruitment of Didier N’Dong over that of M’Vila, who is now absent for at least half a season.
But if and when he does come, Sunderland won’t be giving Rubin a bean.
Only time will confirm the wisdom or otherwise of what has been done, because it’s difficult presently to be convinced either way.
Such is Sunderland’s debt and wage bill, they may have done themselves a massive financial favour. The players who did arrive have been bought with money that the club doesn’t have.
Those stamping their feet about new Premier League money, 43,000 attendances, “skinflint” owners, “lack of ambition,” what-other-clubs-have-done, etc. would do well to read more widely on Sunderland’s fiscal situation.
The issue now isn’t how they fell into this financial pit, but how to get out of it.
Hurling blame and recrimination around is one option we can reject immediately. Besides, we did that last week.
The possibility that an almighty clanger has been dropped by not caving in to Rubin’s demands (whatever they were) should not be discounted.
But amid all the mystery, let us ponder a few things that we do know.
The transfer market is now madder than anyone ever imagined.
For example, we were impressed by Marcos Alonso during his loan to Sunderland, but never dreamed he would cost Chelsea £23m two years later.
Georginio Wijnaldum cost Liverpool £25m. M’Vila is a better and therefore more valuable player and, if all goes to plan, he will be Sunderland’s for a double blonk.
With posted debts of £139m, this might not be a bad idea.
Debate me (politely) on this by all means. Just don’t start your argument with: “It’s simple...”
There is scope for the Yann M’Vila saga to become even more convoluted between now and January. Many an ITV mini-series had been based on less.