Sunderland to step up recruitment overhaul

Kristjaan Speakman is focusing on bolstering Sunderland's recruitment operation as Lee Johnson's side head into the second half of the League One season.
Sporting Director Kristjaan SpeakmanSporting Director Kristjaan Speakman
Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman

Speakman was appointed as Sporting Director in December, and made the recruitment of Johnson one of his first moves.

The pair had to quickly make plans for the January transfer window, having inherited a club with a threadbare operation in key departments.

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Addressing that will be Speakman's key priority now that he and Johnson have concluded the first stage of their squad overhaul.

"Moving forward, a lot of my work now is around some of the more medium term, strategic things," Speakman told the #SAFCUnfiltered podcast.

"Around organisational structure, who is doing what and where.

"I'll be looking at the data analytics and recruitment as probably the number one thing, and then the academy programme. "There's a few departments to focus in on and a few processes to focus in on in the short term.

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"We're in the process at the moment of identifying a head of player recruitment, trying to build out our performance analysis and data analytics team, which will obviously underpin and support some of our decision making processes for the summer and the next window."

Speakman has been tasked with implementing a long-term vision for the club believed to be closely associated with Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, who is waiting for EFL approval to assume a majority shareholding in the club.

Nevertheless, Speakman believes the Black Cats remain in contention for promotion this season and says that very much remains the goal.

"Sunderland can't ever have any other ambition than getting into the top two," he said.

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"So I'm never going to sit in any meeting and suggest we lower our standards any less than that.

"I see the team getting better from week to week, we need to see some greater consistency in results, that's fairly obvious and I think everyone would say that.

"But we've just managed to make some adjustments to our squad and I think we're better for it.

"From here on in, it's just over to the guys to try and do it. I don't see why we should ever drop our ambitions."