Paul Frederiksen-US PRESSWIRE
The speculation-o-meter is already heading towards off the charts and January is only just upon us. One move which has had slightly more talk than others is Tim Cahill coming to the Stadium Of Light. I for one, would very much welcome this move.
I hate the January transfer window. I can understand it's exciting for some people trying to work out who we're going to buy and who we aren't from the approximate eight billion daily rumours that fly about less scrupulous sites and various social networks. From our perspective here at Roker Report it's kind of annoying.
Trying to decipher which rumours have something in them and which don't can be a bit of a minefield. So when rumours recently came to the fore of Sunderland chasing a loan move for former Everton attacker Tim Cahill, we at first resisted writing anything. There's every chance there's nothing in this, but you never can tell. One thing for sure is though that I've still been thinking about any such move for the Australian, and whether or not it would be a good thing.
So with that I've been weighing up the pro's and con's of signing him. I have to say, I think that all things considered that the pro's very much outweigh the con's here.
Firstly it starts with his experience he can bring to the squad. He's not only a proven commodity in the Premier League, but also a successful one with over 200 appearances for Everton and over 50 goals. Not too shabby. At the ripe age of 33, he should still have a little more left in the tank than other so-called veterans like Louis Saha - who has been a complete dud or James McFadden - who despite being younger, was never that great anyway.
It's this sort of experience that could help us off the pitch. It's been a while since he was a true central midfielder but there's players we have at the moment which could do with the benefit of his experience.
Take for example Jack Colback. A major criticism of his game has been that he doesn't particularly get himself among the goals. It's understandable really given you rarely even see him an advanced position. Perhaps on the training ground Cahill could be the one to give him a few tricks of the trade and bring his game on to another level.
Recently his New York Red Bulls teammate Thierry Henry has had a loan spell at Arsenal, and is training there again now. He's been given a fair bit of credit from Arsene Wenger in turning Theo Walcott from a very middling winger (as Henry was) to a very dangerous threat down the middle (as Henry was). Whether Cahill spends time with Colback or young Jack merely picks a few things up from spending time with him, it can only be of benefit to him and other young players on the fringes of the first team squad.
A question which has been raised by many is "What does this mean for Stephane Sessegnon?" and it's a legitimate one so long as you're not of the mindset that it one coming in means another one out the door. What it does mean for Sess is that first of all, he could do with learning from Cahill.
Sess has been deployed in the support striker role and while he can do it on occasions, he also has plenty of off days. Cahill came to the fore of national attention when he was converted into a support striker and occasionally taking the role himself - the exact same thing Sess has been forced into during his spell on Wearside. We could really do with Sess learning the role a little bit better. Both are players that at their peak are equally talented, equally as much of a threat, and really it's time for Sess to kick on to another level and eliminate some of his inconsistency. He could also learn from the Australian - five years Sessegnon's senior.
Equally when it comes to Sess, any signing of Cahill would allow us actually give him a rest. At the moment the option to rest Sessegnon would mean in all likelihood bringing Connor Wickham into the team - something I'm not against but it seems Martin O'Neill is. Cahill would be about as good as we could get in terms of a like-for-like swap.
O'Neill has repeatedly said he'll be looking to give everyone a rest at some stage, and at the moment we've nobody really who can spell Sessegnon without a change in formation, tactics and style. All of which simply aren't going to happen regardless of how good an armchair manager you or I am.
In general barring Steven Fletcher we have precious little attacking the ball when it's put in the box. It seems Fletcher prefers to have the ball played to him rather than attack space where McClean or Johnson put the ball in. There's certainly something he could work with there too in encouraging Sess, Fletcher and others to be in the right position at the right time.
A con would be that he'll only be here for around 2-3 months before he had to return to America for preseason training, but it with the move costing us little it would still in my eyes make it worth it.
The other is of course he's getting on a bit and the idea of signing him is almost the definition of the "short-termism" we hope to eradicate from the club, but with us being in such dire straits earlier in the year, needs must. I'm sure Martin O'Neill would love to bring in someone permanently. Someone younger and able to stick around longer, but there's not exactly going to be an abundance of those available in the short window.
Overall. This would be an excellent move for us if we could get him. He'd bring a lot of quality to the table, a lot of experience for others to learn from and I'm sure - even on a part-time basis - he could have an influence on the first team too.
And finally of course, if little else, at least if he's with us he's hopefully not scoring against us. That's the hope anyway, he'll probably end up scoring 15 own goals...