Sunderland were close to more signings at end of transfer window, says boss Sam Allardyce
Allardyce was able to boost his options with five fresh faces during January, yet Sunderland had been hoping for one final addition after completing the £9million signing of Wahbi Khazri two days before the window shut.
With a right-back at the top of Allardyce’s priority list, Sunderland enquired for Arsenal’s Mathieu Debuchy – who eventually joined Bordeaux – while the Black Cats were also linked with Aston Villa’s Micah Richards and West Ham’s Joey O’Brien.
But the Sunderland boss admits that those hopes of a last-gasp signing fell through for a variety of reasons, with the Black Cats ignoring the panic options available in the final hours before the transfer deadline.
Allardyce said: “We were close in the last couple of days, but couldn’t pull it off for a number of reasons.
“Some clubs had players who they were going to let leave, but they changed their minds because of injuries.
“Some of the players we looked at got injured themselves.
“And some of the players we asked about didn’t want to come.”
It proved to be a window of big changes to the Sunderland squad, with seven senior players leaving the Stadium of Light, as well as those fresh faces that arrived.
But with Sunderland in the thick of the relegation battle, Allardyce felt he needed to gamble on significant changes to a side who have only emerged from the bottom three at one stage this season.
“I think, in general, we were happy with the business we did,” he said.
“Only time will tell, but we think we’ve increased the quality of the squad and taken a calculated risk.
“I had to do that to improve the squad because of our failures previously with the players I inherited.
“Some people might say that’s too critical, but I can only be honest and, unfortunately, it’s a fact when you look at the table.
“I had to do something about it and hopefully we’ll be successful, because we’ll all reap the rewards if we’re in the Premier League next year.”
Certainly, the signs from Allardyce’s new boys were hugely encouraging in Tuesday night’s defeat to Manchester City, with Khazri, Jan Kirchhoff and Lamine Kone impressing on their home bows, while Dame N’Doye was introduced as a late substitute.
“All four came with a big smile on their face when they signed on, which was a great indicator over what they want to try to achieve,” added Allardyce.
“If they cope with the physicality of the Premier League, then their ability is unquestionable.
“It was very pleasing for me that those three produced what they did.
“It’s a big worry when you’ve got new players from abroad coming in against Manchester City, but they stood up to the challenge brilliantly.”