With Lamine Kone refusing to go to pre-season camp in Portugal because he’s close to a deal to leave Sunderland and Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji simply not turning up for work, it looks like we might be finally starting to shift the top earners out.
The biggest challenge remains Lee Cattermole, who has three years left to run on his deal and is no longer fit for purpose due to age and continual injury, which makes him hard to sell, because no one wants him. The irony with Catts, is, of course, that his agent is Margaret Byrne, was the one who gave him such a long contract in the first place. Immoral is the word you are looking for. Sadly, she is also the agent of George Honeyman, so we have to deal with her and try and play nice for the good of the club.
In other news, Chris Maguire is keen to relaunch at Sunderland following a nightmare year at Bury after previously impressing at Oxford, Sheff Wed and Aberdeen. He said: “As a player I want to play at the highest level, I’ve always said I want to get back to the Championship and Sunderland in that league is a big thing. My aims are the same as the club and hopefully this is our only season in League One. I’m delighted to get the move, last year was one that I want to forget quickly. It’s one that I didn’t enjoy, to come in here where there is a buzz and to get that love for football again, it can only benefit myself. I’m looking forward to it. I love playing in front of big crowds, some might not relish that but it seems to get the best out of me. You see the size of the stadium, the season tickets already sold, you just can’t wait to get started. At previous clubs the fans seem to have taken to me. We’ll take last year out of the equation because that’s just something I want to forget about. I didn’t enjoy my football, the big crowds weren’t there, it’s just not the same effect. Previous clubs I’ve been at it’s been brilliant.”
Maguire realises that we are short on numbers, but with several new players already arrived, he feels the squad is taking shape. “Yeah, we’re short on numbers in terms of players but that will get sorted and us on the pitch at the moment just have to do what we have to do in the meantime. That’s all in place and the hard work is underway. He [Ross] did a great job up there. Looking back at last year, most people in Scotland thought that Dundee United were just going to come straight back up. The manager just went quietly about his business, they played some exciting football and I spoke to a couple of the boys, they said he was brilliant. All about playing good football, playing on the deck, and that’s what you want to hear.”
Elsewhere, Lyle Taylor has explained why he chose Charlton Athletic ahead of Sunderland, despite us offering him more money. “There has been a lot said about another team in this league. The decision was not based on being away from home. If it was just based on money I would be there (Sunderland). This is a footballing decision and I can’t wait to get started and playing in front the crowd at The Valley. The way the manager wants to play is important. I had meeting with the manager – we talked about a lot of things and that was one of them. It is important how the team want to play and what my role will be. That was part of the decision-making process. It always helps when you can see the previous of the manager, the players in the building, the squad is almost assembled. There are a few players in rather than wholesale changes. Hopefully there will be a continuation of what happened at the back end of last season, reaching the play-offs."