Losing Jordan Henderson to Liverpool, alongside various other departures, appeared to blow a large hole in any Sunderland ambition. However further investments have come quickly, allowing a squad of significant quality to be formed before the season kicks off, something the likes of Blackburn have struggled to cope with. With Steve Bruce at the helm, there appears to be a large amount of trust between Chairman and Manager, allowing unrestricted spending on players that will, without doubt, take Sunderland forward. Connor Wickham appears to be a signal of this intent, showing significant potential and ability.
With pace, heading ability and strength, it seems this signing from Ipswich will be an excellent investment not just for Sunderland fans, but for the future striking options for England, giving him a chance to impress in the top flight of English football. Wickham, having been named ‘Player of the Tournament’ in the under-17’s European Championships, has the potential to be a player of real quality, and, if given the opportunity, will no doubt form a strong relationship with fellow forward Asamoah Gyan, creating further goal scoring options for Steve Bruce to consider.
With Lee Cattermole and Wesley Brown among others providing defence balance for Sebastian Larsson and Stephane Sessegnon to impress with flair and pace, the balance within the Sunderland squad appears to be what will provide significant future success. Although an attacking unit that perhaps would struggle to scare opposition defences, it would without doubt trouble them, with Gyan able to notch up at least 10-15 goals within a season. This alongside a newly formed defensive unit, as portrayed earlier, could quite easily challenge for the top half of the league.
There are always areas of improvement and with Connor Wickham a few years off full maturity, and a lack of strength in depth within the squad, these issues may need to be dealt with in the near future. However, if the star players that Sunderland hold in their artillery can stay fit and play to the potential that they possess, I see no reason why Sunderland cannot outperform teams around them, securing a top half finish this season, pushing teams like Bolton, Aston Villa and Fulham all the way for 7th place.
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