Phil Smith Q&A on Sunderland deadline: deals that did and didn’t under the microscope
Thorben Hoffmann and Leon Dajaku arrived on season-long loan deals, while Jack Diamond and Will Grigg joined Harrogate Town and Rotherham United on similar arrangements.
Phil Smith answered readers’ questions about concluded and unfinished deals, and assessed the team’s current situation.
You can read his answers below …
How engaged will Aiden O’Brien be if his move to Doncaster Rovers fails?
I’m sure this will be something that gets covered pretty quickly behind the scenes.
O’Brien said after his hat-trick at Blackpool that he had had discussions with Lee Johnson around his playing time, and so the prospect of a potential move would undoubtedly have arisen.
Johnson is evaluating O’Brien, but the change in style this season and the introduction of that extra playmaker in the number ten role has obviously had an impact.
Sunderland were looking for their own potential additions as Will Grigg headed towards his move to Rotherham, so it will be a matter of getting back to work and reassessing the situation when January arrives.
I don’t think there will be any real issues with O’Brien in the future.
He’s a very down to earth guy, a real professional and someone who clearly gave 100% even when he got a little frustrated at the start of this season.
His versatility and physique will be a boon over the next few months and he will know that the best thing for him as he enters the final year of his contract is to continue to make an impact whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Where is Anthony Patterson now that another goalie has signed?
This is an interesting question.
When it became clear that Sunderland were looking for another goalie in the final weeks of the window, Johnson was told that a loan for Patterson would then surely be the way to go.
He said he could, but dismissed the implicit suggestion that the young goalie was therefore the second choice.
Since then, Lee Burge’s injury has driven him to act and he has done well.
In the long run, they believe very much in Patterson and that he can fit into the new philosophy.
But Thorben Hoffmann has higher experience and has also gone through a system where this way of playing is ingrained.
There’s the option of sorting out a National League loan for Patterson, but I think there’s an argument for him to stay with the senior squad so he can become even more comfortable and confident.
There will also be a lot of cup games over the next few months.
Having solid support is also helpful in case Hoffman takes a little while to settle in and adjust.
I don’t think having three goalkeepers expecting to play is sustainable in the long run, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that were revisited in January.
But I don’t think that means we’re going to see less and less of Patterson.
How many loans have an option to purchase at the end of the season?
To my knowledge, only Thorben Hoffmann and Leon Dajaku offers have purchase options included in the loan offers.
However, I think in all cases the club have tried to recruit players who they believe have the potential to have a longer term future at the club.
At 23, Nathan Broadhead needs regular football and it’s not hard to see how a good year on Wearside could lead to another arrangement of some sort.
And while Callum Doyle very clearly seems to have a very bright future at Manchester City, his development is still in its early stages and you would think that a good year would mean Sunderland would be at the top of the line. for any future loan.
Similar to Frederik Alves, although we haven’t seen much of him yet.
The key for Sunderland is to gain promotion and develop these players.
This gives them the best chance of being in a strong position during the next windows.
Very satisfied in all signings, but do you think we could have done it with another striker?
I think most share this point of view.
It probably wasn’t the easiest position to recruit, with Ross Stewart starting the season in such exceptional form and Nathan Broadhead stepping straight into the day’s squad as well.
If you are a young player considering a loan, for example, you are going to have concerns about your likely playing time against this kind of competition.
I think Sunderland’s options are really good, and it’s a luxury to have the versatility of Aiden O’Brien.
He is a good player who can be trusted.
Of course you’re one injury away from being a little light, but the good news is that Broadhead, probably in the cups, is going to have a real chance to settle down.
This position will be reviewed in January, I think.
Do we need to cover Luke O’Nien and why haven’t we added another full full back?
I think the loan rules must have had an impact with the latter.
You can only name five in a matchday squad and Sunderland has clearly prioritized the deals for Hoffmann and Dajaku.
I think Carl Winchester’s form was a big factor, and there’s still a chance Denver Hume will agree to a new deal to bolster those ranks.
If he did, then you have four full-back options, with the potential to drop Winchester in midfield as well.
He was excellent there against Blackpool.
Johnson likes to lead a smaller squad because he thinks it’s better for spirit and cohesion, and players like Winchester and Huggins fit the bill perfectly.
I agree that the team may be a light, and that could be addressed in January.
A bad injury at the back or in the midfield right now would make you nervous, that’s for sure.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with this window and how do you see the recent German signatures being used?
I would give it an eight.
If Denver Hume signed a new contract, I would go to a new one.
It has been truly refreshing to see spaces created for top talent from the club’s academy and players recruited to fill clear and specific roles.
It was a slow start, but it must be said that the club have kept their promise to enter a whole new era.
The only caveat is the very obvious fact that many of these players are inexperienced at both senior and Ligue 1 level.
They’ve been great to watch so far and I think it’s going to continue, but it’s a tough championship.
As far as newcomers go, I think Hoffmann will go pretty much straight to the side.
Dajaku looks like a very direct winger, so he should fit naturally on either flank.