SUNDERLAND sporting director Kristjaan Speakman has said the club are ready to make tough decisions in the transfer market this summer, with the club identifying areas to strengthen in the weeks following promotion to the Championship.
The Black Cats have refined their transfer plans following their win at Wembley against Wycombe Wanderers. The club’s hierarchy have met over the past few weeks to discuss their budget for the transfer window as they look to get a head start in the transfer window. They were due to enter into talks to re-sign Nathan Broadhead and considered offering Ross Stewart a new contract at the club. While the club is wasting no time preparing for the new season, its complicated ownership model could cause problems with unpredictable shareholders Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven still owning a large percentage of the club.
With the window officially opening yesterday, they are yet to sign a first-team contract ahead of the new league season. The club are awaiting contract offers from Lynden Gooch, Patrick Roberts and Bailey Wright whose contracts all expire at the end of the month. However, they face competition to keep Gooch at the club with Swansea City ready to talk the USA winger.
The club are looking to build a squad capable of cementing their position in the league following last season’s promotion. The club’s sporting director has told the media that based on the club’s end-of-season run-in performance, they have been able to identify the positions they need to be added to.
Speakman said: “Our starting point is continuous improvement, so from the very beginning of the last 18 months we have continuously sought to improve. We wanted to develop people within the building, so we wanted to take players on this journey with us.
“Naturally there will be cycles so we have to try to get the right balance in the Championship. We got a lot of scrutiny around ‘we didn’t find the right balance in Ligue 1, we didn’t have this or that’. I was really calm and recorded from January that we felt like we had a really good spot.
“Naturally, for supporters and fans, you want the best players for each position. You want a depth roster of four players. That’s just not possible.
“We have to make tough decisions. That’s what was paid in those positions and you have to make discretionary choices as to where you have certain strength and where you could spend more money on certain players in certain positions. Luckily for us, that was justified by positions and obviously performances over the past three months and more recently in those play-offs where things are really under pressure.
“We have an understanding at the moment where the players are and where we think some of these players may come and then we will supplement that with new players, but you have to be very careful during your transition period and carry some of that success with us and then start screening and onboarding these new players, which is exactly what we’ve been doing for the past 18 months. It’s not really different.
Despite promotion from League One last season, business in the transfer window will have to be offset by player departures in the case of Sunderland. An eventuality for which the club is well equipped but which will not result in lowering ambitions as they embark on a new season in a new division.
“Naturally, you’re going to have a cycle,” Speakman continued. “You are going to potentially lose players on loan, but we have to line up those who we think can help us in the future, but line that up with what their football clubs think.
“You’re going to have players out of contract that you’re not going to keep. You’re going to have players with contracts that you want to improve. Over a period of time, not just a transfer window, across the two, three or four next transfer windows, continue to develop and improve the team.
“It’s up to the players in the team to continue to progress with the football club. Some could outperform the football club and therefore become salable assets. But we want to keep pace to make sure they can stay with us. .
“It makes perfect sense that you have a cohort of players who understand, can perform and are comfortable with Sunderland, but you don’t want complacency so naturally in a performance environment, you have to make sure you can continue to move the threshold for what is needed as in any successful business. If your goal is to make sales in one year, you don’t repeat the same goals the following year. You keep pushing it forward.