Wise Men Say: Anything other than promotion would constitute failure for this Sunderland squad after January business
After the storm, calm. Sunderland’s 1-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon is unlikely to embed itself in the memories of too many, with Aiden McGeady’s winning goal providing a rare moment of quality in a fairly drab game.
For the most part, it was difficult to tell which side was third in League One and which was propping up the table, and the visitors could feel not a little aggrieved to leave the Stadium of Light with nothing.
That win followed a tumultuous week or so on Wearside, one in which the club lost its top goalscorer and then, just as the hourglass was running out, replaced him with a certain Will Grigg.
Grigg moved from Wigan Athletic for a fee that is greater than the rest of the division combined has spent on incoming players, and could rise as high as £4m.
Stewart Donald and co were clearly reluctant to shell out so heavily but, having been backed into a corner through the loss of Josh Maja, they were left with little choice.
Donald could of course have decided not to splurge, a decision which would have left Jack Ross with just one recognised senior striker at his disposal in the form of Charlie Wyke. Duncan
Watmore and Benji Kimpioka are neither out and out centre-forwards nor well-versed in League One life, two boxes Grigg undeniably ticks.
The Northern Irishman has 96 goals at this level and, perhaps more importantly, has been promoted in each of his last two seasons in the division.
Grigg was the fifth and final addition to Ross’ squad during January and it is not unfair to say that without him many would have viewed it as a poor transfer window for the club.
The arrivals of Jimmy Dunne, Grant Leadbitter and Lewis Morgan have undoubtedly strengthened the squad in other areas, but had the only new face up front been the unknown Kazaiah Sterling, many would have had cause for concern as to the Black Cats’ firepower in the remainder of the season.
Ultimately, those concerns should be minimal now.
No matter how they got their man, and there is every reason to believe Thursday was far more chaotic than the ownership would have ever dreamed, Sunderland have in their possession a squad that should be more than good enough to achieve promotion.
Ross’ men were already comfortably well-remunerated when set against the backdrop of the rest of the division, and the investment this winter will have only intensified their rivals’ feelings that the Wearsiders are playing with a stacked deck.
That is not to say promotion will come easily, and the travails of recent weeks are testament to as much, but it is difficult not to think that anything other than promotion would constitute failure for this squad.
There are active volcanoes that have undergone less seismic activity than was in evidence at Sunderland last summer, but it remains that this is a squad of players with more than enough tools to get the job done.
Jack Ross has performed admirably since his arrival last May and has been supported by willing owners. Time to get the job done.
* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes