Among the most memorable moments in Sunderland ‘Till I Die, is the conclusion of transfer deadline day where a wearied Martin Bain slams a door with an expletive upon hearing the news that Jack Rodwell has no intention of leaving.
As the club’s former chief executive retreats to his office to hammer out an enormous coffee from his beloved espresso machine, there are a procession of people with concerned faces
parading through the Academy of Light. Manager Chris Coleman manages to crack some form of smile as he tentatively asks an awkwardly looking Ashley Fletcher if he is “up for the challenge”.
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The business of this hurried day was just another nail in the coffin of Sunderland’s survival bid. Coleman was unable to convince top goalscorer Lewis Grabban to continue his loan spell and was replaced with Fletcher who’s contribution will mainly be remembered for missing a sitter at Bristol City.
Twelve months on and Sunderland find themselves at a similar impasse. Whatever the trials and tribulations surrounding Josh Maja’s departure, the fact remains that the board and Jack
Ross were unable to tie down the young striker for the remainder of the campaign. No matter, what your opinion on the situation, it leaves Sunderland significantly weaker than before their draw against Scunthorpe United two weeks ago.
For all the criticism levelled at Maja and his agent over the past month, Sunderland had sufficient time to manage the situation, it was even a talking point at the start of Coleman’s tenure. Much like Grabban last season, without Maja the club are now scrabbling around for a striker that will pick up the baton.
The success or failure to land the desired targets will, once again, define Sunderland’s season.
Manage to capture a proven goalscorer and it could be the boost the Black Cats need to sustain a formidable title challenge, fail to do so and they could see the likes of Luton and Portsmouth disappear over the horizon while looking nervously over their shoulder.
From the moment the window opened, Wigan Athletic’s Will Grigg has been the name on everybody’s lips. Grigg is the striker that teams in Sunderland’s position turn to to get them over
the line. He possesses an incredible record in League One with 45 goals in his last two seasons at this level, he is the player that could be tailor-made to replace Maja.
The frustration for supporters has been the protracted nature of Sunderland’s pursuit of the Northern Ireland international. The perceived low-balling to a club that is not desperate to sell is
causing concern among some sections of the support especially as Sunderland are lacking a clinical figure up front and slip further behind the leaders.
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Numerous bids have been knocked back and while the club still remain confident a deal can be struck, we’re edging closer to the deadline. The alternatives of Ched Evans, Doncaster Rovers’ John Marquis and Gillingham’s Tom Eaves would represent a considerable gamble and place a huge amount of pressure on both the club and player to ensure they hit the ground running.
While the additions of Grant Leadbitter, Jimmy Dunne and Lewis Morgan are promising, when season two of Sunderland ‘Till I Die is released, the last thing Sunderland supporters want to
see is a clearly dejected Jack Ross trying to put a smile on missing out on his top targets.