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SUMMER SIGNINGS SO FAR
BY JACK WALDRON

When we were relegated back in May, we had a squad that was depleted, lacked motivation and desire. With all this doom and gloom new boss Simon Grayson set about improving his squad with little funds he had at his disposal. He’s brought in seven players in total. We’re only four games into the season, including cup, but here’s how they have fared so far.

TYIAS BROWNING
Not much was known about the young centre back when he signed on loan from Everton. He was part of a double deal from The Toffees, as Brendan Galloway made his way to Wearside too. Like most fans I went onto social media to see what the reaction was from Preston fans to see what their craic was. Their fans spoke overwhelmingly negatively about Browning, but, I think that was more to the fact they were pissed of we’d just nicked their manager. Browning played a big part in our average pre-season. But since the season proper began, Browning has been first choice centre half alongside Kone, ahead of Djilobodji and O’Shea, and has looked strong, quick and composed. So far, so good.

BRENDAN GALLOWAY
Galloway had made just seventeen appearances for The Toffees since 2014. Galloway started the Derby match in the left back position due to Oviedo being injured and allowed Bradley Johnson to score on the 11th minute. Galloway featured in our next three fixtures against Bury Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday. He’s quick going forward, is a hard worker but he seems to be still finding his feet at the moment. Defensive he’s a little weak and naïve but I’m sure Grayson’s working on that with him in training.

JAMES VAUGHAN
Signing players from League One was a dose of reality for fans used to watching Defoe bang in 15-20 goals a season, albeit for a team rooted to the bottom of the Premier League. Vaughan has started every single league game for us this season and is the hardest working player in the team already. He runs for ninety minutes and challenges for every ball. He’s also linked up well with Grabban. Strikers are judged on their ability to score goals though and Vaughan currently has yet to break his Sunderland duck. Hopefully he’ll grab a brace v Leeds on Saturday.

LEWIS GRABBAN
Grabban was signed on a season long loan from Bournemouth. The striker spent last season at Reading, but only managed to score three goals and make sixteen apearances in the league. But his start to the season at Sunderland could not have gone better. He looked fast and direct in the Derby match, scoring a penalty and then was unlucky not to score again when he hit the post in the second half. He scored two against Norwich and could have got a third. He seems to be clinical and calm in front of goal.

JASON STEELE
Steele was brought in after Jordan Pickford was signed by Everton and Vito Mannone went to Reading. Steele, like Grabban had some big shoes to fill. The fact he had an absolute shocker against Celtic didn’t fill exactly win us over. But since the season has started his performances have steadily improved. Still, after four starts he divides opinion amongst the fans, probably because he let in five against Celtic in a match that counted for nothing.

ROBBIN RUITER
Ruiter joined us after being on trial and performed well in our pre-season games. Ruiter was unable to complete his move before the Derby fixture and still hasn’t featured in the first team this season.

AIDEN MCGEADY
McGeady is probably the biggest name to sign for Sunderland this summer (so far). He was the first player linked when Grayson became manager but it took a while for the move to become official. But we certainly got a good deal as it’s believed we paid just £250,000 for the Irish international. He’s started every game in the league and against Bury in the Carabao Cup this season and has looked skilful, quick and isn’t scared to make a tackle. He set up Grabban beautifully at Carrow Road, scored a cracker in the same game and crested George Honeyman’s goal against Sheff Wed.

Verdict: Grayson has done very well with the funds he been given. So far, he’s spent less than £2million and brought seven players into the club with six playing starting the first three league games. Grayson still has time to make more signings and improve the squad and we’ll just have to see what happens before the window closes. Fingers crossed…

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honey monster strikes again…
sheff weds blog

George Honeyman has been speaking about his delight at scoring against Sheff Wed. It’s Honeyman’s second goal this season after he found the net in last week’s Carabao cup tie against Bury. Honeyman said: “It was a good feeling and I was just happy to see it hit the back of the net to be honest. It was one of those where I had a lot of time and it was more of a relief when it hit the back of the net. We probably should’ve taken more of our chances (against Sheffield Wednesday) in the first period and really killed the game off. We knew they were going to come out strong in the second half and I think we we've had a tough week and would've taken a point before the start of the game. We have collected five points from our first three games and I think we are all quite happy with that. They had a few chances in the second half but they have only scored with a long-range effort, sometimes you can’t do anything about that and they just go in but we are happy with our unbeaten start and long may it continue. We are going into every game looking to win. We want to get the three points and if we can get the win on Saturday we will look back and consider it to be a really good start to the season from the schedule we’ve had and the fixtures.”

In other news Didier Ndong has been linked with a move to Lyon by the French media. The Gabon international is apparently on Lyons radar if they fail to sign Pape Cheik Diop.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 1-1 SUNDERLAND
BLOG BY PADDY HOLLIS

After a superb 3-1 win at Norwich on Sunday, hopes were high going into this trip to Hillsborough. In a real game of two halves, we started well but were very nearly taught a harsh lesson on life in the Championship. George Honeyman’s first league goal for the club was finished with bags of coolness as he slotted in past several defenders on the line. We were pegged back thanks to a superb strike by David Jones and, in all honesty, we were fortunate to leave Yorkshire with a point.

On the plus side, it’s a solid point at a tricky place to visit and extends our unbeaten start to the season to three matches. We created chances and soaked up a lot of pressure. However, there was a distinct difference between our performances tonight and on Sunday. A lot of our players looked sluggish and tired not long into the second half and the intensity of the hosts along with their strong bench left us hanging on for a result.

The relentlessness of a Championship season could leave us struggling to keep afloat when playing teams with as much ferocity as Sheffield Wednesday. It was good to see some dogged defending from our backline and it looked as though we’d hang onto the win, Jones’ goal was something special and it gave the hosts what they deserved

Despite taking the lead, this draw definitely feels like a point gained rather than two points dropped. Once being Pegged back to 1-1, previous Sunderland sides could have lost all shape and lost 2 or 3-1. However, under Simon, Grayson it has been made clear even at this early stage that we are now a side that will dig in for a result. If you didn’t have the chance to follow the match, upon seeing the score you’d think a point is a good result. You’d be right. It wasn’t a pretty performance and had Vaughan and Grabban taken their golden chances we could have been out of sight by the time the home side got on the score sheet. It wasn’t to be, but it could have been worse.

The draw at Hillsborough was a big lesson learnt from this Sunderland side. We were shown what to expect from a side that will be in and around the top six come the end of the season. It might not have been a glamorous conclusion but we did show once more that we will be a tough unit to breakdown.

It will be a welcome return to home soil on Saturday against Leeds United, but we’ve returned from three away games with two wins and a draw. The positivity is back at the club and with injured players returning soon and a few new additions through the door we might just be able to have a good go at this league.

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post SHEFF WED craic…
REACTION

Sunderland held on for a 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday down at Hillsborough. After scoring early, courtesy of George Honeyman, a stunning David Jones strike levelled it for the home side. It was a great test for SAFC, who could have crumpled when the momentum shifted, but instead we saw resilience and tact that ultimately earned us a solid point away from home.

Simon Grayson had this to say afterwards. “It was a good performance again to come here and not get beat. When you look at the game we started well, had some good chances and were really the better team in the first half. If we had got the second goal then we would’ve silenced the crowd. They weren’t running out of ideas but they hadn’t opened us up or anything like that. (It was) a wonder goal that gave them the impetus and got the crowd behind them. We withstood a lot of pressure and that is a good mentality to have. After their goal there were some real questions asked of the team, whether we were going to concede a second and lose the game, but we didn’t. We withstood a lot of pressure,” he continued. “This place (Hillsborough) can get going when it is like that but ultimately we are pleased with the first half. If we had scored the second goal then we would’ve won the game. Up until the wonder goal we looked very comfortable with what we were doing.”

Grayson was happy with the fight that his players showed in the later stages of the game to dig in and get the draw. “That side of the game is every bit as important as what we did against Norwich,” said Grayson. “You have to stand strong and make sure you put your bodies on the line and do whatever is required to win a game or get a result. We had to do that. They were kicking towards their supporters and really had a go in the closing stages. They built a bit of pressure but we withstood things and that is what we had to do. It is something we had to change, and it is even something that had to change since pre-season. We went to St Johnstone and conceded three in five minutes, and then conceded five against Celtic when we shouldn't have done. You have to be strong mentally and you have to have a team spirit where people will work for each other. Any team that has done well in this division has had that spirit and togetherness, and have been willing to put their bodies on the line. You can’t just play fancy football all the time. There are times when you have to dig deep, and this is another valuable point to add to the start of the season.”


The gaffer was delighted with George Honeyman's goal and overall contribution to the game. "You want your goals to come from different areas of the pitch,” said Grayson. "George gives you work, endeavour and quality as well. With it being so early in the game, he could quite easily have lost his composure and hit it over the bar, but he showed good technique and got us off to a great start. We tried to build on that, and looked comfortably defensively. We looked good on the counter-attack, and had two or three really good chances that could have meant we put the game to bed.”

Grayson also commented on our failure to land Max Gradel, from Bournemouth. "We spoke to Max, but he eventually decided to go back to France,” said Grayson. "We had agreed something with Bournemouth and he is a good player that I wanted to bring to the club - it shows you where we are with the players we are looking at. That would have been a big signing for us, but he just felt that his family wanted to go back to France. That was disappointing, but it is part and parcel of football.”

Grayson gave an update on Josh Maja's fitness. "He had an operation on his knee on Tuesday morning,” he said. “He will probably be out for a month, they just found a bit of a problem with his knee and we had to operate.”

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