After last season’s releagtion to the Championship, its been a busy summer of transfers at Sunderland. Here is a look at the business so far at the Stadium of Light.
To put it bluntly he looks average at best, conceding over 60 goals last season for relegated Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers, Steele signed for an undisclosed fee in late July; believed to be around £500,000. An academy product of the Middlesbrough youth system, local lad Steele is back in the North East, closer to hometown Newton Aycliffe.
Steele was demoted to Boro’s 3rd choice stopper after the appointment of Aitor Karanka, having the starting place took off him by Tomas Mejias and back-up role was filled by the Greek goalie Dimitrios Konstantopoulos. He was loaned out to Ewood Park before making the move to Lancashire permanent.
So far, he has looked shaky at the Stadium of Light, he looks nervous and under pressure constantly. He also seems to have a tendency to spill the ball, which has some fans questioning his capabilities. He had a debut from hell conceding five at home to SPL champions Celtic before not keeping a league clean sheet so far this season.
On loan from Everton, this versatile English defender can play at either full back or centre half, where he has played this season. Browning looked promising in pre-season, especially in the short trip to Hartlepool where he was running out of the defence creating space in midfield. He looks a bit nervous at the start but quite quickly grows into the game. Although he looks a bit inexperienced he could be an asset at the back especially with his physical presence. Browning is no stranger to boss Simon Grayson as he spent the second half of the season on loan at Deepdale last season with the current Sunderland gaffer.
Possibly the worst full back I’ve seen at Sunderland, probably on par with Gareth Hall and Stephen Wright. To call a spade a spade, he’s utterly useless and so far this season it would’ve been better to play with 10 men at times. On a season long loan from Everton he spent a season on loan at West Brom but only turned out three times for the Baggies. Before signing for the Toffees in 2014 he was a young talent at MK Dons.
Although born in Zimbabwe he has represented England at all levels apart from senior level. Some Sunderland fans would question the Three Lions selectors considering how defensively poor he’s been so far. He looked poor in pre-season especially in the hammering in Perth to St Johnstone, looking constantly out of position and putting massive amounts of pressure on his centre halfs. Half of the time it would be easier playing Stevie Wonder at full back and he’d probably do a better job than the 21 year old Everton loanee.
Looking good in terms of providing service and putting in deliveries, but the Irish international has a reluctancy to track back at times. The former Everton winger is used to playing in defensively comfortable teams such as Celtic, Spartak Moscow and Everton however, for £250,000 he seems a steal, considering he is still only 30.
Despite an unsuccessful loan to Sheffield Wednesday, he enjoyed a season on loan at Preston with manager Simon Grayson, last season and most North End fans would’ve loved to see him on a permanent basis. It isn’t the first time Sunderland have chased the Irish wing wizard, back when he was playing his football in Russia he was linked with a €9 million move to Wearside. Looking poor against Scunthorpe on his debut and again in pre-season at home to former employers Celtic, he really shone in the Derby game before really impressing the supporters at Carrow Road.
I think he could be an essential part to Sunderland’s season especially if the Black Cats want to challenge for promotion.
Got off to a good start by netting a spot kick at home to Derby before grabbing a brace on the road at Norwich. Although his first appearance for the Wearsiders was in the dismal performance against Celtic.
Personally, I’m still undecided on the on loan Bournemouth striker. Although he does show spells of good quality he seems to disappear for some of the game and becomes a lame duck for periods. Grabban won promotion to the Premier League with the Cherries, as well as promotion from League 1 with Eddie Howe’s men. He joined Reading on loan in January after receiving limited game time at the Vitality; getting limited credit with Reading last season in their promotion bid despite reaching the play-off final, but was overshadowed by Yann Kermorgant.
After a fantastic spell with Bury in League 1 last season, Vaughan netted 28 times as the Shakers came close to promotion to the Championship. Vaughan lined up for Bury at Gigg Lane in July against Sunderland as Bury went 2-1 up at the break before the Mackems turned it around second half through a Josh Maja brace. Vaughan still holds the record for being the youngest ever Premier League goalscorer when he netted for Everton against Crystal Palace in 2005. However, Vaughan’s promising career was riddled with injuries and mediocre spells at Norwich City and Huddersfield before reviving his career in the Midlands at Birmingham before impressing in League 1 at Gigg Lane.
The 6 foot 5 Dutch goalkeeper signed on a free from Europa League and Eredivise outfit FC Utrecht. Ruiter had been on trial for Grayson’s men in pre-season making his debut at Valley Parade in a 3-2 victory over the Bantams. Despite conceding two, one of which a penalty, he kept the visitors in the game with two superb saves. He commanded his area at Glanford Park in a 0-0 draw with Scunthorpe.
Ruiter hasn’t yet made a competitive appearance for the Mackems although I personally think he should be 1st choice over local lad Steele. The big goalie helped Utrecht to Europa League qualification stages and to a reasonably high finish in the league however; the 30-year-old has suffered from a knee injury recently limiting his game time.