Writer: Gary Johnson
Date:Tuesday January 5 2010
I must be getting wise in my old age. Or maybe it's increased patience and not extra wisdom that my gaining years have armoured me with. For years and years now i have thrown my hard earned (debatable to those who have worked with me in the past) cash at pre Christmas goods, rather than waiting for the bargains that became available even before the last chimes of 'Auld Lang Syne' have rang out.
The January sales. This year i saved roughly £400 simply by waiting an extra week or two to indulge myself, and whilst Steve Bruce does not have the option of making December purchases, he does have the wonderful gift of December planning. Just picture it. Planning a shortlist of multi million pound toys to play with. I'm surprised that Premier League managers actually sleep. Surely the permutations that must run through their heads surrounding their squads come January 31st are enough to give them an orgasmic glow.
So i thought i'd put myself in Bruce's place and have made a shortlist of players that i feel would benefit the club both in the short and the long term. And for someone who hasn't played 'Championship Manager' in years....this also has a nostalgic feel to it. The words 'kid' and 'sweet shop' spring to mind.
Nigel Reo Coker - Probably available for around £5million, Reo Coker can play in numerous roles, most notably central midfield. He has however, in the past, performed admirably in a right back role thus adding cover and competition to Phil Bardsley. A former captain of West Ham and regular in an Aston Villa side that just missed out on Champions League last season, he is in need of a new challenge and a new home and Steve Bruce could offer him both.
David Bentley - I know it's a controversial one in the sense that Bentley is clearly not everybody's cup of tea. His attitude leaves a lot to be desired. His skill and match-turning ability however, is not in question. I believe Bentley to be one of those players who just needs to be 'built up' and not 'kept in check'. By all means, make him aware that he is part of a team.....but tell him on a regular basis that he is a huge part of it. He thrives on being the 'main man'. Lives for it. And with Spurs reportedly interested in Kenwyne Jones, a swap deal could be a great bit of business.
Emile Heskey - If Jones is to be offloaded to Tottenham, then who better to act as a perfect foil to Darren Bent? Heskey has had his critics. More than enough down the years. I've often been amongst them. But only when he has been judged purely on his goal return. His hold up play, unselfish style and superb work-rate would make him a great addition to the squad. A marked improvement on Jones in my opinion.
Adam Johnson - Middlesborough's best player by a mile this season. And whilst it may make financial sense to wait till June and snap him up for roughly £2million, why wait? If Johnson can hit the ground running, the difference between finishing 13th and 8th could earn the club up to *3million extra in prize money, which is roughly the difference in signing him now or in the summer. Still young, and with a every chance of gaining full international honours, Johnson must surely be high on the list in terms of priority.
Tal Ben Haim - With Portsmouth's current situation, their 'stars' are up for grabs on the cheap. And whilst he may have been unassuming and average on his loan spell last season, Ben Haim is the type of player that Bruce can get the best out of. Would be a solid squad player adding depth in the central and left sided defence.
All of the above are players that would benefit the club, and whilst i wouldn't expect Sunderland to spend the obvious sum that all of these players would cost, they are merely a few options to look at. And with outgoings to raise a few million, then the net outlay would hopefully not be as high as first thought. Hopefully messrs Nosworthy, Murphy and Healy will find themselves on the road to help fund the transfer kitty.
So my 'Day in the life of Steve Bruce' ends......and no signings are confirmed at this point. But i'm sure that i'll be glued to the web for the next month to see just who he goes for. Fingers crossed!
Date:Tuesday January 5 2010
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