Ellis Short has not broken any promises after there was never a figure placed on Sunderland’s summer recruitment drive.
That was the message from Dick Advocaat after Short came in for the first widespread criticism of his Sunderland tenure this week.
People are writing that we discussed figures, no – we discussed about how we improve the teamDICK ADVOCAAT
A modest outlay in the transfer window so far has prompted frustration among supporters, who have seen the Black Cats swept aside in their opening two games.
Advocaat has made no secret of Sunderland’s need for further acquisitions after declaring the club needed half-a-dozen “quality” signings at the end of last season.
When Advocaat held talks with Short prior to his return to the club during the summer, the chairman agreed on six signings – potentially including two loans – but no numbers were mentioned, despite false reports that the ex-Holland manager would be backed with a £50million war chest.
There are question marks over how many of Sunderland’s five signings so far in this window fit that “quality” tag, although the Black Cats remain in the market for fresh faces.
Signing ex-Swansea star Jonathan de Guzman would
be a step in the right direction after Sunderland entered into talks with Napoli over the Dutch international, who they are understood to have been tracking for several weeks.
Sunderland are thought to have virtually agreed a season-long loan, with a view to a permanent deal with Napoli, with de Guzman now deciding whether to return to the Premier League or join French side Marseille.
But Advocaat accepts Sunderland are operating on a limited budget and says Short is not to blame for that after the owner has seen millions squandered by previous regimes, with the club still paying instalments on transfers from the last couple of years.
“We are all working with one target – to make this club a better club,” said Advocaat.
“But knowing what has happened in the past and knowing what kind of salaries average and even below average players have had here, a lot of people have made a lot of mistakes and the president has to pay that.
“I think it is a little bit unfair to only blame Mr Short.
“People are writing that we discussed figures, no – we discussed about how we improve the team.
“We never discussed £10m, £20m, £30m, £40m, £50m. We said we have to improve and we have to make the team better.
“And so far we have tried to do that.
“On the other hand, if we bring in players for £3m or £2m or nothing, it will take time because for that price normally you get back-up players.
“And for three of the four (Jeremain Lens, Yann M’Vila and Younes Kaboul) they have to become regulars.
“We need also a bit of time with the players and we also still need to try to get somebody in – one or two.
“Normally the panic starts in March, but if you read the newspapers now it starts in August!
“That’s a little bit strange – understandable, but strange.
“There is no reason to point the finger and say it is your fault or my fault.”
However, when Advocaat was asked whether he felt the team had been improved sufficiently so far during his window, he replied: “No. Definitely not.
“But let’s wait a week or so, when it will be easier to say something about that.
“I think we will get a better team than last season.
“I’m very confident about that.”