The only thing that surprised me about Ricky Sbragia’s resignation was the timing of it, coming just 20 or 30 minutes after the final whistle. It was odd to watch Niall Quinn speaking about his manager not wanting to take up the option of another year as manager, whilst Sbragia stood there impassively.
Now it seems that the man who dared to question Roy Keane’s scattergun approach to transfer policy, correctly in my opinion, Ellis Short, is finalising his deal to buy out the board and complete his takeover at the Stadium of Light. A transfer kitty of £200 million will then apparently be made available to whoever takes the hot seat over which just makes me throw my hands up in exasperation.
60 years ago, Sunderland were known as the “Bank of England” due to their wealth but times have moved on and once again we’re faced with another club who seem to have no realisation of where they are in the scheme of things. The names being mentioned with the vacancy go from the ludicrous, Frank Rijkaard, to the obvious, Alan Curbishley, to the stupid, Steve Bruce being a Newcastle fan. The number one target, Martin Jol looks set for his dream job as Ajax manager; can Sunderland honestly think they can match Ajax in terms of appeal?
Now I’ve nothing against Sunderland wanting to better themselves but once again this is a club that the new owner assumes that just because it’s in the Premiership, everyone will be queuing up to join them. No offence to Sunderland fans but Short must be living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that they can attract the quality of players or a top quality manager he seems to think will want to join them.
Despite the amounts of money washing around in the Premiership, to attract the top players you either need to be based in London, or an internationally known club such as Liverpool or Manchester United. Sunderland are neither at the present moment and Short needs to look at how tough Manchester City are finding it to attract the big name players they assumed would be desperate to join them. Regardless of what a lot of people think, the top players want to win trophies, with money being a distant second.
You can have all the money in the world, but as in Sunderland’s case, you have no real international presence or modern history, you will struggle to improve the player quality with signings from abroad. Look at Newcastle in their pomp or Leeds United when they were going well, which top quality international stars did they sign? None. Not one, because of geographical location and history of success.
They may have signed some great players, but not one of true top level international quality. Ginola was a swear word in France by the time he joined Newcastle after being blamed for the goal that cost France qualification to USA 94. Faustino Asprilla was a loose cannon, unable to fit in anywhere, a risk too far for many managers.
With Short trying to throw money at Sunderland, he may be very surprised of the actual lack of interest from a top quality manager to join him. With several massive clubs in Europe needing new managers, Juventus, Munich, Real Madrid, Ajax, PSG, Chelsea, Celtic and German champions Wolfsburg to name a few, he’ll realise that money isn’t everything in Premiership football. Can Sunderland honestly compete with those sides, regardless of the money the may have?
Even in England, they only have to look up the road to Newcastle United to see the type of player having loads of money can give you. Inconsistent, infuriating and unwanted else where, the perception of the last few years in the UK was that if a player went to Newcastle, it was purely for the money as they had no chance of any silverware.
Short needs to be realistic at Sunderland and grow them steadily, otherwise he could end up with a frustrating summer and team full of mercenary players. Once again, a quick glance up the road will tell them all they need to know about that policy.