Sunderland sporting director Kristjaan Speakman may have a job on his hand to get the fans back on his side in the coming months.
A section of the support blasted the Stadium of Light supremo for how he handled the club’s search for a new manager last month, whilst some fans questioned some of his business in the January transfer window.
Speakman opted to sack Lee Johnson after the 6-0 defeat to Bolton and he failed to get a replacement in for their matches against Doncaster and Cheltenham as Sunderland lost both games with an interim managerial set-up in place.
The ex-Birmingham academy manager now has the opportunity to resurrect his image at the Stadium of Light by sealing a masterclass with young striker Josh Stones.
TEAMtalk recently reported that they are one of a number of clubs in the race to land the Guiseley centre-forward, with Wolves, Burnley, Watford, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace and Newcastle also said to be keen on him.
This shows that there is a huge amount of interest in the striker from teams in the divisions above Sunderland, which is why winning the race for his signature would be a masterclass by the club. The fans would surely be impressed if Speakman can convince Stones to turn down several Premier League sides, including their fierce rivals, to join the Black Cats.
After all, this is a team that has so often seen their academy gems taken away from them by the rich and the elite in English football.
He has scored against Palace at youth level for England’s schoolboys and has been playing regularly in the National League North this season despite being in his teens. That suggests he has the potential to go far in his career as he has been able to break into a senior set-up at such a young age, showing that he has the ability and physicality to play at first-team level.
Therefore, the youngster would be a shrewd addition to Sunderland’s academy side this year. If he is then able to make the step up to League One, or potentially the Championship, then he would be saving the club millions as they’d be able to avoid dropping a big transfer fee on a new, already established, striker to bolster the side.
Speakman must now work hard to ensure that he can get a deal over the line for Stones to restore his reputation and make sure that Alex Neil has a talented player in the pipeline for the future.