Sunderland manager turns to familiar faces in a desperate attempt to avoid relegation… sound familiar? David Moyes has been criticised following the signing of three of his former players in the January transfer window. The Sunderland boss turned to Joleon Lescott, Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo to strengthen his squad in a bid to avoid relegation.
All three players are at the nadir of their respective careers. After a woeful spell at Aston Villa that saw his career fall off a cliff, Lescott washed up at AEK Athens where he only managed four appearances before having his contract terminated.
Gibson and Oviedo both struggled to force their way back into the Everton side under Ronald Koeman after suffering traumatic injuries while under the charge of Roberto Martinez.
Sunderland’s fans could be forgiven for feeling a little underwhelmed.
Since his arrival at the club, Moyes has brought in nine players that he has previously worked with whether at Everton or Manchester United. Aside from the three previously mentioned Moyes has snared Adnan Januzaj, Victor Anichebe, Steven Pienaar, Jack Rodwell, Donald Love and Paddy McNair – a rag-tag bunch of unrealized potential and former glories, not one single player on an upward career curve.
Moyes has certainly succeeded in fleshing out his squad with players boasting Premier League know-how but it could be argued that after losing Patrick Van Aanholt to Crystal Palace, there hasn’t been any real boost in quality.
Roy Keane employed a similar approach to recruitment during his time at the Stadium of Light. It helped take the Black Cats from the foot of the Championship all the way to the title in Keane’s first season in charge.
Ireland’s assistant manager continued to bring in players he knew, a total of 18, Sunderland managed to retain their Premier league status that season finishing 16th, two points clear of the relegation zone. The following season, however, the wheels started to come off, Keane left the club acrimoniously when his relationship with majority shareholder Ellis Short became untenable.
Keane signed plenty of players, bringing lorry-loads of experience to his squad. In terms of quality, the side that finished top of the Championship in his first year was the pinnacle. Players like Carlos Edwards and David Connolly flourished at Championship level but failed to have any real impact in England’s top tier.
Moyes sees this ‘better-the-devil-you-know’ approach to the transfer market as low risk.
“The advantage of signing players I’ve worked with before is that I know what I’m getting. I know what they’ll do and their characters more than anything, they trust me and they know the way I manage and the way I work. They will know what to expect. Sometimes for them, that makes the move easier. I hope it shows.” Quote via the Telegraph.
He may very well know what he’s getting, professionals with good attitudes to training etc. But is he getting the quality he needs to hoist his team from the bottom of the table?
Looking at the form book for the players he has brought in you would have to say no. Often in football with low risk comes low reward, Moyes bringing in these players is the transfer market is the equivalent of a sideways pass.
Ultimately Keane paid the price for employing a plethora of his former colleagues but he had far less to lose. Coming off the back of failed stints at Man United and Real Sociedad, Moyes can’t afford to suffer another disaster.