Friday, September 01, 2006

Keane hits out for six!

Sunderland AFC welcomes newcomers.

The transfer window closed at midnight and for fans waiting for news from the club it was a tense and eventful evening which produced good news and surprises. Between them, Niall Quinn and Roy Keane managed to spend 3.7 million pounds on players, a total investment worth almost 10 millions when salaries and contracts are taken into account. Incredibly this will be mostly offset by the income from fees and the savings on salaries of the players released by Quinn before Keane accepted the manager's job. So all in all, yesterday's transfers must be seen as terrific value and good business moves.

The six newcomers to the suad are

  • Dwight Yorke (Sydney)
  • Graham Kavanagh (Wigan)
  • David Connolly (Wigan)
  • Liam Miller (Manchester Utd.)
  • Ross Wallace (Celtic)
  • Stanislav Varga (Celtic).

It is rumoured that Celtic defender Neil Lennon was also offered the opportunity to come to Sunderland but turned the option down at the last minute in order to savour another campaign in the Champions League.

It is great to see Sunderland in a position to compete in the transfer market again and be able to attract bigger names, however some concern must be expressed at the age of some of these "experienced" players. Keane has not been frugal with contracts but neither has he fallen into the trap of signing players to lengthy options, most of the new players have agreed to three year deals. I see Yorke, Kavanagh, Connolly, and Varga as being the experience and backbone that Keane was looking for, whereas Miller and Wallace are exciting prospects for the future.

Yorke can be used in central midfield or up front if needed, Kavanagh will be a great ball winner in the middle of the park, Connolly is a proven goalscorer, Miller and Wallace will add some wider options, and Varga could be a steadying influence in the back four -who can forget "Stan Viagra's" formidable Sunderland debut against Arsenal? Let's hope he has picked up a little extra pace over the past three years, it was his downfall when playing in the Premiership, where he was prone to bringing down faster opponents for penalties, however, he ought to be good enough at this level.

As a longstanding fan I now have much more confidence for this season, I think we now have a squad with sufficient quality to lose the negativity which had instilled itself, and sufficient ability to challenge for at least a play off place.

The squad now has plenty of time to train and work together before the next match away to Derby County on the 9th. September, it will be intriguing to see what Roy Keane's starting eleven will be, and what sort of tactical formation he will employ.

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