Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Henderson to Liverpool?

Strong rumours have started tonight that Hendo has agreed terms with Liverpool, seems fishy to me, especially as it's no secret he likes Man United, not to mention the fact they're in for him too. I'll believe it when it comes from any sort of reliable source, but it got me thinking; would it actually help us? Obviously it would only help us if we get good money, but I'm positive Bruce wouldn't let him go for anything below £20m. £20m would pay for the left winger we so desperately need (N'Zogbia?) and would go along way towards bringing a quality striker in to play alongside Asa. He's a major asset to Sunderland and the ball is very much in our court, in the sense that he's never hinted at leaving when he knows that bigger clubs are in for him, you've got to respect that. He's clearly an outstanding prospect and he's an ambitious lad, unfortunately, his ambition may be beyond what Sunderland can offer him.

Aims for next season

Matt Kilgallon
What we should be aiming for and what I expect are similar for next season, unlike previous years. I was ecstatic with 10th position this year, not just the way we did it (on the last day and finishing above the mags), but just because everyone had seemed to have written us off when we went on that hideous run. I was quietly confident. Next season I'd like to have a similar season, but without the bad run of form. Obviously we need to show signs of progression, so I'd be over the moon with a few good, key signings to bolster the squad and another top 10 finish. I still think it's too early to think about European football, we've not got the experience and depth to handle it yet, and we don't want the distraction of extra competitions to spoil our league progress. Fulham are a good example of that. As I blogged a bit further down, I think we need a minimum of 8 players to show signs of the progression I'm talking about, we need a lot more strength in depth. Normally players such as Colback wouldn't be getting a game, however that said, I've been very impressed by the lad, he's proved me wrong totally. Players such as Riveros, Angeleri, Healy, Nosworthy, McCartney and Matt Kilgallon need to be moved on in order to free up funds for the incoming player's wages. Bruce has done a good job of getting rid of deadwood so far, although that doesn't count for a lot when signs deadwood himself (see Riveros, Angeleri and Kilgallon). I say deadwood, but they've never really been given the chance; Angeleri may be a crock but why sign him if that's the case? Is this another sign that Bruce doesn't listen to medical advice? Matt Kilgallon hasn't been given a chance either, he was only brought in as back up but it's still an insult to him to be signed and then loaned out a few months later. He played well against Hull a couple of year back, to play in a Sunderland team that wins away from home is an achievement in itself! Anyway, digressing again (I do that a lot), the main aim for next season for me is; to finish slightly higher in the league and more comfortably, bolster the squad with 8+ key signings, and is it too much to ask for a derby win? Unfortunately probably, I really can't see a Bruce team winning a derby game. Prove me wrong, Steve.

New away kit, template?

Sunderland Away Kit 11/12
Ireland Away Kit 11/12

Athletic Club Away Kit 11/12

I personally love the new away kit, I think it's the best since the turquoise Nike one from 2003. However people keep telling me it's just a generic top from a template that Umbro would only have to design once for a number of teams. This doesn't bother me really but it does make you think how little work goes into each kit for the amount of money fans spend on it each year. The top alone is around £40, the socks and shorts aren't cheap either so if you're getting the whole kaboodle then you're gonna have to shell out a lot of money. Anyway with people mentioning this template I decided to have a look about for other kits Umbro have designed for the upcoming season, I didn't have to look very far as I noticed the new Ireland away kit was practically identical to ours barring the colours and the collar, whilst watching the ROI v Scotland match. I also remembered seeing the new Athletic away kit a while back, and when I looked at it again realised that again this is very similar to ours, the collar is the same, the only difference is the red and white stripes as opposed to the one white stripe on ours, apart from the base colour that is. Remember when fans had a choice of which kit the lads would wear away from home? That was a much better idea, it will have taken longer for the kit designer, yes, but if the majority of fans have chosen it then they can't really complain about the design and as a result sales would probably be up.

As you can see from the three images below, Sunderland have always had a fancy for a light blue away kit. As well as these three from the 80s, we've also had the aforementioned Nike one in 2003/2004 and the Lonsdale kit we won the Championship in under Roy Keane in 2006/2007.
Sunderland Away Kit 81-83
Sunderland Away Kit 83-86

Sunderland Away Kit 86-88


Arminia Bielefeld
Borussia Monchengladbach
Hannover 96

Burnley FC
York City FC

Hibernian FC

Positions to strengthen.

Fraizer Campbell
As we've seen this/last season, football is full of injuries. I fully believe that every team needs two capable players in each position and unfortunately this wasn't the case last season. Yes we've had injuries, but they're going to happen so you have to be prepared, we weren't. Our main problem was the forwards without a doubt, at one point we had no recognised striker available. With Bent gone, Campbell crocked for a further 6 months, we were left with Welbeck who had his fair share of niggling injuries, and Gyan who also spent a fair few weeks on the sidelines. In hindsight we probably should have replaced Bent with a stop-gap type player, but Bruce was right not to pay over the odds for an average player at the same time. We struggled on well in the circumstances.

Kieren Westwood
Anyway, starting to digress here. I'd like to see a left back brought in, with Bardo switched back to right back and we probably need two centre halves with Onuoha and Mensah looking like they won't be returning. A goalkeeper would come in handy too, Gordon's out for 6 months and his future is hanging in the balance as well, we really need to get a contract tied down with him or else we're in danger of losing him for nothing. I'm confident in Mignolet as number one but we can't go on with just him and an inexperienced Carson. There's talk of Kieren Westwood coming in on a Bosman from Coventry, he seems a canny keeper for nowt, international experience too. We definitely need a winger as well, Charlie N'Zogbia has seemed pretty much nailed on since we didn't get him last year really, I like him as a player but Whelan will definitely try and take our eyes out and I hope we're not going to pay over the odds for him. Seb Larsson looks like he's going to sign as well, again, good business on a free transfer. Not sure he's the answer to the problematic left hand-side mind. The main area and without doubt most urgent that needs to be strengthened is upfront, we've got one fit forward as it stands. Campbell is out till Christmas at least and even then there's no guaranteeing he'll be the same player he was before he got injured. So with that in mind I'd say we need 3 forwards; a big name to play regularly with Asa, an experienced Premier League striker (Carew?) and a gamble. By a gamble I mean somebody like Bothroyd, not that I particularly want him like, don't rate the lad at all. So if my maths hasn't failed me (as it quite often does!) that's 8 players we need at least.

What the blog is all about...

Just basically me rambling on about Sunderland. Thought I'd start it before the new season so I can talk about transfer rumours and all that nonsense as well, I shouldn't run out of stuff to write about on that topic- even if I have to dig the age old Robbie Keane to Sunderland rumour up again.