Cats overhaul an exciting risk

Monday 1st July 2013 10:22

Paolo Di Canio: Shaking up his Sunderland squad

Paolo Di Canio: Shaking up his Sunderland squad

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Sunderland FanZoner Michael Graham acknowledges the risk of Paolo Di Canio's summer overhaul but is glad just to have some excitement again.

However strongly we feed our thirst for it during the week or summer, football will always be about the moment.

It is those moments that truly expose the raw emotion of the game and bind us inextricably to our teams. That has always been the case and it always will be. The moment is the very lifeblood of the entire football phenomenon.

For Sunderland fans last season, though, the moment wasn't something to relish, cherish, or look forward to. In fact, with the odd exception, the moment generally meant only misery and subsequent anger.

I can honestly say that as the Black Cats' season limped over the finishing line to Premier League survival and Paolo Di Canio embarked upon his astonishing rant in the White Hart Lane press room, I would have barely bat an eyelid if the Italian had put every single player up for sale there and then.

But that was the emotion of the moment. That was anger.

Since then, that anger has subsided. I have made my peace with Sunderland to some degree. May be it's the the natural annual boundless and blind optimism of the close season, but I have actually come to forgive a few of the players who plodded their way so pitifully to safety. I started to instead consider practical concerns, and a few of them even wormed their way back into my affections - somehow.

It is therefore perhaps ironic that since that stance has softened, Di Canio has apparently decided that, actually, Sunderland had might as well just sell everyone anyway.

Simon Mignolet has departed for Liverpool, on-loan Danny Rose has headed back to Tottenham and is far from certain to return, while Stephane Sessegnon and Lee Cattermole have been made available for transfer. Phil Bardsley, David Vaughan, Danny Graham, James McClean... you name them, Sunderland are probably trying to sell them.

In fact, only John O'Shea, Adam Johnson, Steven Fletcher and Jack Colback will likely be returning to training this week with any semblance of security in their positions at the club.

Naturally that has meant that just about every footballer and their dog are being linked with a move to Wearside this summer. Cabral, Valentin Roberge and Mobido Diakite have already been confirmed to be joining the club, and full-backs Gino Peruzzi and Benjamin Mendy could well be about to join them. Trying to keep up with Sunderland's transfer business has become a full-time occupation.

Just what Di Canio's side will look like when the new season kicks off against Fulham next month is anyone's guess. Attempting to assess it right now would be like trying to judge a jigsaw for which you don't have the box, immediately after spreading the pieces out over a table.

But, if anything, you get the sense that this summer for Sunderland is not about forging a new identity for themselves - it is about getting rid of an old one. The dull, boring club, who play dull boring football with their array of dull and boring players who were mostly predictably assembled on the dull and boring domestic transfer market. It's enough to make you yawn just thinking about it.

I would genuinely feel sympathy for any neutrals last season who were unfortunate enough to stumble across the odd Sunderland game, but since I was forced to endure all of them, every scrap of my sympathy is reserved for myself. I'm sure you'll understand.

However, no one can say with any degree of certainty what kind of club Sunderland will be come the end of August. I doubt they are that sure of it themselves at this point. The spectre of Queen's Park Rangers' ill-fated attempts to do something similar a year ago looms imposingly, of course, and unwittingly falling into the same traps is a possibility you have to acknowledge.

But that's fine. If it is the risk you have to take to inject some life into the club then so be it. In fact consider me to be all in. I just want my moments back, really. Actually, I'm not even that greedy. The mere possibility that I might enjoy them when they inevitably come will do. I just want my football back.

You can follow Michael on Twitter @Capt_Fishpaste - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too for links to all the latest blogs.

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