Sunderland: Who should O'Neill sign and axe this summer?
Now that England are out of Euro 2012, albeit at the hands of our arch-nemesis the penalty shootout, all eyes will be on domestic affairs, with the more exciting prospect of the summer transfer window getting into full swing.
With recent speculation suggesting veteran forward Louis Saha could be swapping London for Wearside, Martin O’Neill has to decide whether to make the injury-prone striker his first signing or wait until June 30, and expand his global search for a goalscorer by taking advantage of the Bosman ruling.
Indeed, Sunderland have yet to find a direct replacement for Darren Bent, having seen loan stars Danny Welbeck and Nicklas Bendtner return to Manchester United and Arsenal respectively, and record-signing Asamoah Gyan leave for the more financially-glamorous pastures of Dubai. They’ve also spent big money in the past two seasons, with little reward, although they did finish a respectable 10th under previous manager Steve Bruce.
However, with chairman Ellis Short insisting that the wage bill at the Stadium of Light be lowered before players come in, O’Neill has a tough task to spend wisely yet ensure the Sunderland faithful are treated to the kind of quality that the club have been promising ever since they moved into the SoL in 1997.
“Silly season” as it’s affectionately known has seen the Black Cats been linked with everybody from Manchester City’s Adam Johnson, former O’Neill favorite Gabby Agbonlahor and Canadian protégé Junior Hoilett, to unknown quantity Alvaro Vazquez and Chad striker Hassan Hissein, whose only claim to fame is an embarrassing two-minute video on YouTube of him scoring an own goal!
On the way out of the SoL will most likely be Argentinian right-back Marcos Angeleri, who has been unfortunate with injuries, Egyptian Ahmed ElMohamady, a peripheral figure under O’Neill, and Gyan (who will remain in the UAE after a successful loan spell). Rumours continue to revolve around sensation Stephane Sessegnon (linked with just about everyone), while anyone from Michael Turner to Kieran Richardson to Craig Gardner and Connor Wickham could be on the move.
One potential source for O’Neill is the recent performances from the “lesser ranked” countries at Euro 2012, with Russia’s Alan Dzagoev, Poland’s Jacub Blaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski and Ukraine’s Yevhen Khacheridi, in particular impressing. The Ulsterman will surely have been scouting the talent in Poland/Ukraine and with the club's impressive scouting team, will look to unearth a hidden gem. Ultimately, it will be the players O’Neill brings in before September that the media and fans will judge him on at the end of the season, a season that must see Sunderland reach the heady heights they’ve been anticipating for over a decade.
Article by Sarshar Hosseinnia
Calling all Sunderland fans: Who do you think O'Neill should buy this summer? Who should he move out of the Stadium of Light? Would you like to see Bendtner back at the club permanently? Would you be happy with Louis Saha signing for the Black Cats? How vital is it to keep Sessegnon at the club? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.