While some cynics doubt whether Newcastle United’s current squad can cut the mustard in the Premier League, there was no doubting that Rafael Benitez targeted players with proven Championship pedigree last summer.
Matt Ritchie, Isaac Hayden, Darryl Murphy and co had ‘been there and done it’. Therefore, it was no surprise that their experience helped The Magpies cruise to automatic promotion and, after a late wobble, the title.
Therefore, Sunderland could do worse than to take a leaf out of their north east neighbour’s book as they attempt to bounce back at the first attempt following relegation.
And the early signs point towards cautious optimism. Sam Gallagher scored at a reliable rate for Blackburn Rovers last season, Aaron Mooy inspired Huddersfield Town to the play-off final while Ipswich’s Adam Webster and Barnsley’s Marc Roberts are two of the most promising defenders in the second tier.
And they’ve all been linked with summer moves to the Stadium of Light.
As has Bristol City’s jet-heeled left-back Joe Bryan, as reported by the Daily Mirror. The 23-year-old, a local lad who has spent his entire career at Ashton Gate, has been an almost ever present for three straight seasons with The Robins.
After making his name as an exciting full-back their 2014/15 League One title winning campaign, Bryan’s reputation has grown in the Championship. A solid and committed defender but, most of all, an excellent attacking outlet, he has adapted perfectly to a new role as a forward-thinking wing-back.
While Bryan Oviedo has been far from the worst Sunderland signing since David Moyes took over, replacing the ageing, injury prone Costa Rican with a proven Championship campaigner like Joe Bryan for just £2.5 million is exactly the sort of decision Sunderland need to make to ensure their stay in the second tier is as short as possible.
As unpopular as it may be, copying Newcastle’s example is the way to go.