You can feel Jack Ross’ irritation as he waits for decisions on the bids we have in for Mohamed Eisa, Charlie Wyke and George Evans. “I would prefer it if we knew one way or another in that period (the next couple of days). We’re already up to 18 or 19 days before the start of the season and hopefully this time next year I’ll have had a full pre-season without any of this. It was always going to be the case that we were chasing our tails a little bit, but we don’t want to keep having to do that. I think there’s a recognition that if the players that we’ve identified can’t come, then it’s important that we know that quite quickly, so we can move on and get as much in place as we can a week or ten days before the Charlton game. Obviously, that’s the most important thing for us, and we’re going to have to squeeze a lot in during that time. The concentration for me has been on improving the players that are here, and I think you saw that tonight, but equally there’s been a lot of work on identifying players that could come in and help us. That’s underway, in fact that’s beyond underway, it’s been done. It’s now just a case of, ‘Can we get them here?’ Hopefully that will happen.”
On Wyke, who hobbled off after only eight minutes with knee injury at Valley Parade on Tuesday, Ross said: “As I said on Saturday, he’s a player I like, but he’s also a player that’s under contract so it’s not straight-forward,” said Ross. “We’ll see.”
When quizzed on Eisa, he had this to say: “When we were doing recruitment in Scotland, we were always aware of players in England,” said the Sunderland boss. “We look at playing history and what people have done in their careers, and he’s a player whose goalscoring record has been outstanding through different levels of the game. I don’t think there should be a snobbery attached to that – to score that many goals at those levels, you have to be good. But again, the same as with Charlie Wyke, he’s a player under contract so I would never speak too much about them, other than to say they are good players, which is probably stating the obvious.”
Stewart Donald also updated the situation via Twitter: "One already accepted. One very minor adjustment and a second will be accepted. Third one waiting to hear but it is a very, very, good offer. Everyone seems to know we have placed offers on these! To say they are a long way off the other club’s valuations is just wrong. We have made no offer on Billy Sharp."
Meanwhile, Sunderland managed their first pre season win under Jack Ross, when they beat Grimsby Town 1-0, thanks to Lynden Gooch’s diving header. Jack Ross said: “The players have been really responsive to what we’ve done in training, but it takes time to adjust to new methods and a new manager,” said Ross. “Overall, I think we’ve improved in every game we’ve played, and I thought tonight was another improvement. I’m pleased they got their rewards in terms of the result because they do matter.”
There were a few players missing last night and the boss explained why. First up Lee Cattermole: “It was just a slight knock for Lee from the weekend. He should be OK for Saturday. Jon [McLaughlin] was fine. I wanted to see Max Stryjek. Max was really good and I wanted to see him in a proper game. Jon is fine, he trained hard yesterday. Reece… it is his groin. He could be out for a couple of weeks. Alim should be back for Saturday. Ethan... it was his groin, we need to assess that, hopefully not to serious as I have been impressed. It was good to see Max Stryjek. He has trained really well – I thought it was a good opportunity. It is a proper game, against a League Two side. He started very well. He deserved it for how he has trained. It is encouraging for me to have a group of goalkeepers who have done very well. I am pleased they got their reward in terms of the result. They are important and they do matter, it is important for us to deliver the enjoyment of winning games. It was a good night overall. We have a squad without a recognised striker in it really. Chris [Maguire] did well, but that is not his natural position, Josh [Maja] comes on... not his natural position. The back four is very makeshift too with a lot of young players involved in it. There are still loads of things to get better at, it was an improvement.”
Sunderland: Stryjek (Ruiter 66), Flanagan, Taylor, Love, Hume (Matthews 66), Honeyman, Robson (Mumba 59), McGeouch (Kimpioka 74), Gooch, McManaman (Maja 71), Maguire.
Subs not used: Hackett, Molyneux, Storey, Kokolo.
In other news, Charlie Methven is ready to take on the police and the council to reduce our policing bill and business rates. Go Charlie. Methven said: “If you look at the business rates bill, it’s at £2million a year, but in regards to our turnover, that’s £17million a year. To be spending near enough an eighth of your turnover on business rates, that’s way out of kilter. There are national guidelines, but if you look at large Championship clubs, they are paying about £500,000 a year so for Sunderland to be paying four times that is bizarre. Successive relegations mean this is not a profitable business, it’s a loss-making business. It’s absolutely right that businesses should pay business rates and of course I’m comfortable with Sunderland paying its fair share. Together with the Foundation of Light we’d like to think that the club contributes to the community. We are not trying to disavow our responsibilities but it’s a two-way street. It’s important the club gets promoted as quickly as possible back to the Championship first so that we have bigger clubs coming to play here. Going forward we’d like to see a more reciprocal situation. Our matches need to be policed, but it’s hard to believe that our bill should be twice as much as Newcastle’s when they had twice as many spectators.”
Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt of Northumbria Police said: “The cost of policing is based upon rates set by the Home Office and not by Northumbria Police. All bills relating to policing football matches are then agreed with the football clubs. We have already praised fans of both Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC for their good behaviour over the course of last season and we had very little trouble at either St James’ Park or the Stadium of Light. Our football fans are among some of the most passionate in the world and are a real credit to the region. We are looking forward to working with them again when the season starts next month.”