Date:Tuesday January 9 2007
If any one fact was to temper the excitement the fans are feeling towards the signing of Anthony Stokes from Arsenal for £2m, then it is that which shows that the last time Sunderland spent so much on a striker was when shelling out around £8m on Tore Andre Flo.
Money does not necessarily buy us success, and we'll all be hoping that Stokes is capable of more than the 6 goals Flo managed in a red and white shirt.
But the signs are promising, with his phenomenal record in Scotland showing that this boy clearly has talent. Some say that 16 goals in 18 games is good but must be taken into consideration alongside the standard of football over there.
This is undoubtedly true, but it must also be said that there are still several quality forwards playing in the SPL, for Celtic and Rangers in particular, who are nowhere near the same total.
One other striker to have such an impact in such a short space of time in Scotland is now expected to guide Manchester United to the Premiership title years after his peak.
Stokes is only 18 years old, and with all due respect, played for Falkirk.
There's plenty to be upbeat about, without going overboard.
And many agree. Liam Brady, Arsenal's academy director who, told The Journal that Sunderland fans have a lot to look forward to,
'There was a hell of a lot of interest from various clubs because of his performances in Scotland.
'The boy had done really well and it was only right that we told him about the interest in him and ask what he wanted to do.
'He told us that he wanted to play first-team football but he didn't want another spell out on loan. He wanted a permanent deal and that's what Sunderland were offering.'
As has been highly publicised, those other clubs involved were Celtic and Charlton, but Stokes chose to join us. I just thought it was worth mentioning again, as it seems there's a few people in football who don't understand the decision (see http://www.celtic.vitalfootball.co.uk/article.asp?a=45837) who are claiming that the move was purely money-driven.
Liam Brady is not one of these people, and believes he knows exactly why he chose the side 10th in the Championship,
'Anthony knew that Roy had been watching him play in Scotland and I'm sure that was what swung it.
'I'm sure that it was Roy's influence more than anything else that made his mind up and got him to Sunderland. I have spoken to Anthony and his father and both of them have talked a lot about Roy.
'I'm sure it's the same with any young Irish boy - if Roy Keane wants you to sign, you are going to do it.'
Brady is also confident that Sunderland will challenge for promotion following Stokes' addition,
'Roy Keane has done a very good job since he became a manager and Sunderland are moving in the right direction.
'When they lose, it is always by the odd goal and all that seems to be missing is a goalscorer. In Anthony they have one, a player who is strong and quick and who has a good tough for a big lad.
'He is intelligent and is a fine all-round young footballer. If he can do at Sunderland what he has done at Falkirk, I think Sunderland could have a strong finish and get right up there by the end of the season.'
The new boy shares that view, and believes that an unbeaten run will get Sunderland right into the thick of the promotion pack,
'I am confident we can mount a promotion challenge in the second half of the season.
'We are only three points off the top six and if we get on a run of three or four games where we pick points up then let's see where that takes us.
'It is brilliant to be here and I am looking forward to starting training.
'I know quite a few of the Irish lads here and one or two of the other boys as well, so hopefully it will not take me too long to settle in.
The youngster is in line to make his debut at home to Ipswich this Saturday, where he will line-up alongside David Connolly in a strike force that should be able to compete amongst the best in this division.
And Stokes believes his experience at Arsenal will put him in good stead for the future,
'Arsenal are a great club and I am glad I have had the experience of being a youth player there.
'However, it was time for me to move on and go somewhere where I could stake a claim to play in the first team every week.
'I spoke to Roy Keane and he told me about his aspirations for the club and where he thought it was going. I took that into consideration and decided this was the right move for me.'
Let's hope there's a big crowd there this Saturday to welcome the three new lads to Wearside.
**For more one the subject of why Stokes chose Sunderland, click here.**
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