ELLIS Short remains absolutely convinced that Martin O’Neill is the right man to lead his Sunderland revolution.
But the owner will seek a comprehensive review of the Black Cats’ scouting and recruitment functions at the end of the season.
Sunderland’s mid-season slump has left them battling to extricate themselves from a relegation fight and prompted soul-searching in red and white quarters.
But Short and O’Neill both remain convinced that they will turn the club around in time, with the owner steadfast in his belief that the former Aston Villa chief can lay the foundations to make Sunderland fixtures in the top ten in future years.
However, there will be a thorough review of some of the club’s recruitment policies in an effort to help O’Neill’s planned summer spending spree.
Sunderland made the conscious choice to recruit quality rather than quantity in the last close season – with the support of Short.
He had grown tired of the annual overhauls overseen by Steve Bruce.
But the Black Cats squad now looks too short going into these vital last few weeks of the campaign.
Sunderland manager O’Neill has talked up the return of Phil Bardsley and Connor Wickham this week.
However, there is an acknowledgement that the squad is short on options with the ability to change the game.
And the Wearsiders may have to bring in numbers as well as pedigree players in the close season, meaning scouting and recruitment will be more important than ever.
In particular, Short wants to see the clun unearth more value for money in the transfer market, and believes that Sunderland’s overseas scouting network needs to be more effective. The Black Cats were active in the foreign market in January with mixed success.
Former France under-21 midfielder Alfred N’Diaye looks like a raw recruit, but at least has the potential to improve.
Kader Mangane is yet to play a minute of competitive football for Sunderland amid concerns about his ability to cope with the physicality of the Premier League.
In all fairness, he was only recruited as short-term support to bolster Sunderland’s defensive options – but Short would like to see the Black Cats bring in players who can offer more in the longer term.
There are signs that process has begun. The Journal understands that Sunderland watched long-term target El-Hadji Ba in action for France’s under-20 side against Denmark in midweek.
He started the game, which ended in a 3-2 win for France, and was also watched by Newcastle chief scout Graham Carr and representatives from Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham.
But Ba, who Sunderland were first offered last summer, is understood to favour a move to Wearside if something can be negotiated.
One player Sunderland are certain to attempt to sign this summer is Danny Rose, who has been superb during his season-long loan at the Stadium of Light.
The Tottenham defender was in action for England under-21s in front of the watching O’Neill on Thursday.
And despite a looming suspension, Stuart Pearce has confirmed his plans to take him to the European Championships in Israel this summer.
“Rose is suspended for the first game of the European Championships, so we’ll have to start with another left-back, but he is too important to leave out of the squad,” said Pearce.
“Two years ago I was prepared to take Tom Huddlestone, who had a two-game suspension.
“We also have Tom Ince missing for the first game, but the only way I’d leave someone out of the squad is if they were suspended for all three group games.”