Belfast Telegraph

Congerton hopes for stable summer

Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton is hoping to avoid wholesale changes once again this summer.

The Black Cats made 14 signings during the last close season as then director of football Roberto De Fanti and manager Paolo Di Canio opted for revolution rather than evolution.

It was a policy which ultimately proved ill-founded as the club fought a season-long battle for Barclays Premier League survival which eventually cost both men their jobs.

Twelve months on, replacements Congerton and Gus Poyet are attempting to rebuild a squad decimated by the departure of out-of-contract players and loan signings without the same kind of upheaval, and that is proving challenging.

Asked if he envisaged a similar influx, Congerton told BBC Sport: "I want to say no, but when we look at the team ourselves...

"I'm sure any fan can say we need a left-back, we probably need a centre-half, we probably need some midfield players, we probably need to replace Fabio (Borini), maybe a centre-forward, so all of a sudden, the numbers are going up into double figures again, and that's the last thing I want, and Gus as well.

"But we need to improve the quality. The starting 11 is very important, we need to have a squad.

"But first of all, we need to have a starting 11 that can be competitive week in, week out in the Premier League, so we do need more players.

"But for me, it's not so much about the quantity, it's also about the quality. I don't want to sign players just for the sake of it."

Sunderland's problems last season were compounded by the fact that 13 of their 14 new arrivals were overseas players, many of whom had never before played in the Premier League.

Some managed to adapt, but several did not, and that is an error the club hopes to avoid this time around.

Congerton said: "Currently, we are trying to get players who are already established in the Premier League.

"That's difficult because they have a premium, they cost more money and maybe they are already happy where they are.

"Then we have to open ourselves up and go a little bit further afield, and maybe we are not set up for that at the moment. Maybe that was one of the difficult points last season, so many players coming from different countries.

"Maybe we take one step back and try to concentrate on what we know a little bit better than what we don't know."

Free agents Billy Jones, Jordi Gomez and Costel Pantilimon have already arrived at the Stadium of Light, but the recruitment process has only just started with Swansea defender Ashley Williams among the club's remaining targets.

Congerton said: "We are trying our best, we are working every day and hopefully before the season starts, we have our squad together.

"But given that we haven't got vast amounts of money, it will probably go to the last day of the transfer window."


From Belfast Telegraph