Thursday, August 29, 2013

Short pitch: Sessegnon sale highlights new Sunderland

A fee has been agreed for the transfer of Sunderland forward Stephane Sessegnon to Qatari club Al Jaish.  The deal completes a hasty exit from the Stadium of Light for the Benin international, who has been probably the most influential Mackem of the past two seasons – the player was arrested for drink-driving only hours before the transaction was announced.

Questions must be raised about how and why the forward was sold, especially considering Paolo Di Canio’s strident desire to keep him; the fact that the deal was announced so quickly after the infraction only heightens suspicion that a deal was already in place.

After a second key forward swaps Northeast for Middle East in two years (and the third high-profile striker departs in three-plus years) the Black Cats now rely on new guy Jozy Altidore, the young Connor Wickham, a rehabilitating Steven Fletcher and the disappointing Ji Dong-Won.

With Sessegnon departs most of Martin O’Neill’s influence at Sunderland.  Though the move doesn’t seem to be of Di Canio’s design, his men are now obviously the centerpiece of the club’s new direction.  Owner Ellis Short seems to have bought in to Di Canio’s demanding and ultra-professional message and backed him by creating a lineup of hardened, regimented players – the only question now is about the talent level.  

2012-13 looms as something of a referendum comparing players of exuberant if sometimes wayward talent with those of unflinching professionalism.

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