SO what was the summer-long fixation with Fabio Borini all about then? Goodness only knows, but Gus Poyet’s unfathomable refusal to give up on the Liverpool striker when it was increasingly apparent that he did not want to return to Wearside means the transfer window closed with a degree of frustration from a red-and-white perspective.
If Sunderland were willing to pay £14m for Borini, why did they end up with a couple of free transfers on deadline day and gaps at both ends of the field?
Clearly, Poyet was either being exceptionally stubborn or was extremely badly briefed, but having held on for Borini for the best part of two months, it felt as though the Black Cats were scrambling around at the last minute because other opportunities had slipped through their grasp.
That’s probably a bit unfair because prior to yesterday’s frustrations, Sunderland had completed some decent business, with their squad looking more balanced than was the case at the same time last season.
They had to pay a premium to lure Jack Rodwell from Manchester City, but the midfielder already looks capable of making a major impact, and the free signings of Costel Pantilimon, Billy Jones and Jordi Gomez came with minimal risk attached.
Patrick van Aanholt arrived to replace Marcos Alonso, another former loanee who failed to return after a lengthy courtship, while Poyet clearly values Will Buckley after the pair’s time together at Brighton.
But having tried so hard to re-sign Borini, and despite the arrival of Ricardo Alvarez, Sunderland are relatively light of options at centre-forward and from attacking midfield. Similarly, while Sebastian Coates has bolstered Poyet’s defensive options, the exit of Modibo Diakite and Valentine Roberge means the Black Cats look numerically light.
So a decent summer then, and certainly a more effective one than the chaotic circus that unfolded 12 months earlier. But as the transfer window closed last night, it was hard to avoid the conclusion that it could, and perhaps should, have been even better.