Monsieur Salut discusses the need for a sensible balance between openness and discretion in the pre-season transfer market…

Who knows? By the time I finish writing this, or soon afterwards, Sunderland could have clinched the signings of two strikers, a central defender and a midfielder.

If so, the concerns I am about to address will seem unnecessary and pointless.

But does anyone else share my growing reservations about the indiscreet manner of our approach to recruitment? Well I can answer that. They do, or at least one supporter who posted at Twitter does – he made his view known in a robust fashion that would prevent his tweet’s reproduction at this site.


His complaint, and mine, is that Stewart Donald’s refreshing openness is beginning to look a little rash. The world knows all about our targets and even the progress being made towards signing them; that world includes the clubs we are seeking to do business with and others that might well start thinking, ‘Sunderland must be on to something – let’s have a sniff ourselves’.

If all goes to plan, the misgivings will be shown to be groundless.

But it does seem that Donald should spend a little less time discussing specific transfer developments on a fansite podcast.

This is not a case of sour grapes; the owner is fully entitled to grant favours to his preferred medium – Salut! Sunderland doesn’t even have a podcast, though it is worth pointing out that Wise Men Say first burst into life on our pages, and also has few resources and no physical Sunderland presence.

I am in favour of football clubs being as candid as possible with supporters. Ellis Short was not only secretive, but compounded his reclusiveness by then complaining, illogically, that he was forever being misrepresented by the media he so steadfastly refused to talk to.

Even our rightly praised new regime sticks to the absurdity of saying so-and-so has been signed or sold for “an undisclosed fee”. The amount is usually known, presumably because someone close to one of the clubs concerned has quietly revealed it, and it is reported anyway; moreover, if the speculated figure is hopelessly wrong, the club has only itself to blame. I also disagree with those who say we should believe nothing until there is an official club statement – SAFC has been notoriously slow in confirming done deals.

But there are sensible commercial limits to disclosure. Talking openly about the size of bids for named players, and then giving details – perhaps not all, but some – of how negotiations are proceeding seems to me to stretch beyond those limits. Maybe other clubs would have been interested in a certain young striker even if we’d said nothing about our own efforts to sign him, but we have certainly encouraged them to pay attention now.

I have previously recalled that when Roy Keane took us up to the Premier League, Sunderland went about its pre-season transfer business in a seriously prudent manner. I was authoritatively told that the vast majority of those reported to be targets were never of interest to us, while actual targets were as often as not unknown to the press and thus the public until and unless a signing was made.

I am sure that agents and clubs – and maybe a few players too – drop hints for strategic reasons, and also that some sportswriters and broadcasters will speculate wildly on the flimsiest of evidence. There may even be a trace of smart kidology in the pronouncements that have been made.

All I am saying is that we should be a lot more cautious about incomplete and possible vulnerable attempts to enlist the players we need.

And I’ll even take that back if Jack Ross gets the men he wants …

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

8 Responses to “Should Sunderland be giving away a lot less about transfer targets?” Subscribe

  1. Brian July 20, 2018 at 8:18 am #

    Yet another ellis short bashing excuse.
    The man handed over a quarter of a billion quid to get us out of the doo doos and to make us competitive. He hires managers we were all happy with but we were let down by them.
    Why does he nees to be a gobsh!te with supporters?
    The mansoors rarely make announcements. Joe louis
    ( spurs ) makes short look like katie price. These people put their money where their mouth is. Ellis short has been demonised and maligned by an army of know nowts and frankly speaking its a disgrace. Without him we were heading for the poor house, thanks to drumaville and roy keane.
    The fawning over of donald and methven is cringeworthy and baffling. They have achieved nothing in football. They are practices at spouting weasel words and platitudes and like the lemmings we are safc supporters fall for it.

    • salutsunderland July 20, 2018 at 8:47 am #

      Interesting defence of Short. I have repeatedly acknowledged that he put a huge amount of money into the club and was badly let down by managers, players and senior management. But he made some awful decisions and his last couple of seasons were a disgrace culminating in inexcusable absenteeism.
      If he’d had half the success of
      Mansoor or the Spurs owner, he could have been as reclusive as he wished as far as i am concerned. i simply couldn’t tolerate his have-it-both-ways approach

  2. malcolm July 20, 2018 at 8:24 am #

    With a professional PR man on board, the club seems to be going a long way towards repairing that severed connection with the fan base. My season card arrived yesterday with a letter from Stewart Donald which included the sentence, “Whilst I have come here to try and improve things for everyone, it is and always will be, your club.”

    The first half dozen signings were done quickly, though there are still those complaining that we haven’t signed big money players, totally ignoring the reality of the place the club is at.

    Personally I want to know that the recruitment drive is still ongoing and while I feel there is something in what you say, I think that agents, the press, people within the selling clubs are all potentially liable to leak the Sunderland interest to other clubs to drive up the price.

    At the moment I am more concerned with the failure to move on those players who are restricting the club’s ability to bring in new blood. Even though Ndong and Djilibodji are apparently not being paid while they are refusing to come back, presumably the club must take their salaries into account under the financial fair play restrictions. What well run club is even going to consider signing them on a free when they have clearly behaved in such an unprofessional and self centered manner? At least Kone is training, though there doesn’t seem to be any interest in him.

    But perhaps there is and the club is keeping it quiet. It must be a tricky balancing act, deciding how much supporters need to know and how much to keep confidential.

    • malcolm July 20, 2018 at 8:28 am #

      PS “the club seems to be going a long way towards repairing that severed connection with the fan base” except with people like Brian of course!

  3. Ben Nevis July 20, 2018 at 8:27 am #

    Yes, agree talking openly about transfer business should be avoided. Fans should be happy knowing the plans without names or finance being discussed.

  4. Micky L July 20, 2018 at 9:25 am #

    Absolutely agree. Donald seems a little too free with what he says. Not only does that alert other clubs, but it also raises the hopes of the fans and so increases the pressure to get the deals done.

    Its great that we are interested in the likes of Eisa. He is exactly the sort of player we should be investing in. It is not great to think that we might be beaten to his signature by Portsmouth or Peterborough, or even a ‘mediocre’ Championship club, and Donald will have opened himself up to a lot of questions if that does happen.

  5. Paul Summerside July 21, 2018 at 7:36 am #

    I agree 100% with your article. Its a constant unabating feed of speculations, targets, news and more importantly fake news., from SD.
    If football was a game of poker, we’d be the first club leaving the table.
    It may be interesting to our social media fanzines, and our Newcastle based rags, who now get equal access to news…no exclusives any more.
    But to me I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of rumour conjecture and false hope.
    I’m not financial analyst, I’m not a director, I’m a fan.
    Tell me who were intersted in and who we’re selling by all means, but leave it at that.
    Be friendly and approachable, be open about past mistakes, but please keep important things closer to your chest.
    Unless of course I’m a rubbish poker player and you are mis leading the whole table, and about to go ALL IN and sign Eisa.
    That said..id rather have Stewart Donald over Ellis Short any day of the week.

  6. malcolm July 22, 2018 at 6:13 pm #

    The power of Salut eh!

    https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/owner-stewart-donald-promises-leave-14938454

    although no doubt other sites and social media would have got the message across.

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