After securing an unexpected place in the Championship play-offs last season in their first campaign back in England’s second division, much was expected of Sunderland in the opening weeks this time around. The Black Cats have been inconsistent so far, however.
Tony Mowbray’s side got off to a fairly frustrating start, losing their opening two games against Ipswich Town and Preston North End, before finally getting off the mark against Rotherham, winning 2-1.
Since that first win of the season, Sunderland have gone unbeaten, drawing 0-0 with last season’s play-off final losers Coventry City before shocking the rest of the league by smashing Southampton 5-0 at the Stadium of Light.
Their inconsistency has begged the question about Sunderland’s need to add more reinforcements, potentially from the free agent market. And sporting director Kristjaan Speakman has given his verdict.
What did Kristjaan Speakman say?
With the likes of Tanguy Coulibaly and former Brighton & Hove Albion youth player George Cox currently available on the free agent market, Sunderland fans would be forgiven for wanting their club to assess their options, with plenty of available players linked since the deadline.
Having welcomed an impressive total of 11 reinforcements in the summer transfer window, however, which included the arrival of Jobe Bellingham, the Black Cats may feel as though they’ve built a squad good enough to achieve a play-off place for a second consecutive campaign.
Speakman confirmed as much, too, delivering a pretty blunt verdict via the Sunderland Echo when asked about whether Sunderland will delve into the free agent market: “We always assess the market but it’s not something we’re looking at in terms of thinking, ‘can we get this one [position].’ 100% not, definitely not. We’re really, really comfortable with where we ended up on the back of those deals we got done at the end of the window.”
Speaking on the squad at Mowbray’s disposal, the sporting director was quick to assure that the Black Cats have enough depth, saying: “We want to try to ensure that players have got an opportunity to play, so we want a streamlined squad. We want to ensure we’ve got enough depth of course but not so much that players can’t see a route for them onto the pitch, because that’s not good for the team culture either.
“What inevitably happens is when you’ve got your squad structure, you might be perceived to be a little bit light in some areas but we feel we’ve got cover and we’re comfortable with the flexibility we have.”
Do Sunderland need more reinforcements?
When Sunderland started the season with two consecutive losses, it was easy to become worried about their chances of replicating last season’s play-off position. The majority, if not all, of those worries went away as soon as Mowbray’s side put five past title-hopefuls Southampton last time out, however.
That win proved once and for all that those at the Stadium of Light are more than capable of beating anyone in the Championship this season, and perhaps even go one better than the last campaign by securing promotion. As the season goes on, Sunderland will certainly be one to watch.