Following Sunderland’s loan successes this season, we’re looking at the best loanees to arrive on Wearside. In part two of this feature, we’ll look at which three midfielders will be joining SAFC’s best loan eleven, alongside the defence of Shay Given, Alan Hutton, Jonny Evans, John Mensah and Danny Rose.
Ever wondered what a team made up entirely of Sunderland’s best loan signings would look like? In the final instalment, we’ll look at which strikers have impressed at SAFC after being temporarily brought to Wearside.
Regardless of whether Sunderland are still a Premiership side in May, Gus Poyet is guaranteed a busy summer. An incredible fourteen players are out of contract at the end of the season, five of whom are currently on loan deals at the Stadium of Light. Crucially however, six of the fourteen are first team regulars. So which players should be rewarded with a new contract, and who need to be looking for a new club?
First off, I realise this is all based purely on what ifs. I also realise every team could do this and probably come to a similar conclusion. However, we do seem more susceptible than most to crazy moments leading to unnecessary red cards. Surely this has had an impact on our season and an impact on where we are in the table? Sunderland have received six Premier League red cards already this campaign, more than any other side. So, because I’m at a loose end this evening, allow me to recap them all and mull over how many, if any, points each cost us.
Bottom of the league at Christmas, with ten points from seventeen games. With half of the season gone, not a single league win against another team in the bottom half of the League. Twelve goals in seventeen games, five league wins in the whole of 2013 (only one more win than we have had managers in this year). Right now, Sunderland are a shambles, and look like relegation certainties (and as Sunderland fans, we should know what a relegation side looks like, we’ve seen plenty before).
What do you want so much that you're like a warrior who never gives up? A derby winner? An equaliser in a cup quarter final? What about a winner in a cup semi-final or a crucial goal in a televised game? Well Fabio Borini has achieved all that and still wants more. His celebration which we've all copied at some stage is supposed to represent that fighting spirit and his commitment.
On Wednesday we went to war. We conquered yet we didn't return home unscathed. Injuries were picked up, pain was suffered and we all aged. Boys became men. Girls became women and the unknown middle aged man next to me became a target of affection. Someone I hugged, kissed and expressed my fears to. We shared it all. Why don't I sit next to good looking lasses?!
Clubs in the bottom half had a busy January as they attempted to sign the players capable of keeping them out of the bottom three in May, and before we hammered Newcastle yet again (had to get that in there) there was the small matter of deadline day to deal with. So which clubs were able to bring in the players they needed, and which clubs face a long second half of the season?
Vito Mannone has by far and away been the brightest star in our gritty squad, sending us to Wembley amongst other heroics and I’d be surprised if anyone would contradict that belief. It isn’t the first time Sunderland have relied heavily on the man between the sticks and last season our Premier League survival was almost exclusively secured by now Liverpool number one Simon Mignolet. I was gutted when we lost our Belgian keeper, he was so pivotal to our season, as is Mannone to this season – so who is the better goal keeper?
With Wembley sitting so faintly yet distinctly on the horizon, it's time for the tedious transfer tug of wars and talk of relegation to stop. Just stop. Quite frankly, since Ki Sung-Yeung's immortal winner against Chelsea a month back I've thought of little else than the possibility, however big or small, of wandering down Wembley way in a sea of red and white.