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Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn has suggested the Premier League club will make no signings in the January transfer window, backing up previous comments made by the club’s manager, Steve Bruce.
"Put it this way," he told safc.com . "If I was a football agent and I got all the other agents together and said 'how can we get more money out of these clubs?', we'd invent a transfer window system.
"There is not one fan of it, other than agents who know that when panic ensues players are bought for larger transfer fees and larger agency fees,” he continued.
"I have nothing personally against agents—they have a job to do—but what a helping hand this transfer window business gives them. It's stupid stuff."
This may surprise supporters, who have seen their side struggle over the Christmas period. Bruce did good work in the transfer market in the Summer and made an impressive start to his tenure, pulling the club from relegation scrappers to the top 10. The former Wigan boss secured impressive home victories against Liverpool and Arsenal along the way.
His side has dropped off a precipice since the surprise win over Arsenal. The Black Cats haven’t won a league game since that Nov. 21 fixture. They have only secured three points in seven games and travel to Stamford Bridge tomorrow to face the league leaders.
Rumours had linked the north east club with a spate of defensive signings, with the Black Cats looking far from solid at the back over the course of the campaign. Younes Kaboul has been the most heavily linked, with reports suggesting Bruce was eager to seal a part-exchange deal that involved Anton Ferdinand moving to Portsmouth.
But with Pompey apparently asking for £14 million, it seems the deal is dead in the water.
Bruce had tried to cool speculation at the start of the month, saying he didn’t anticipate many changes at the Stadium of Light.
"I don't anticipate doing much business in the transfer market in January and any players that I do bring in would have to come in for sensible money,” he told the Sunderland Echo .
"I've always said that the January transfer window is a difficult one for managers to get value for money in," added Bruce. "Unless clubs are realistic in their pricing, then we won't be interested—simple as that."
The Sunderland manager did admit he could see areas of weakness within his squad.
"I know that we could do with bringing in a player or two. I know we could do with a bit of strengthening, but we're not going to pay silly money to do it," he explained.
"We have several players who we will listen to offers for. We've done our own homework and we have areas we want to strengthen and players we might be interested in.
"But nothing is sorted and supporters shouldn't expect a lot of comings and goings,” continued the Sunderland manager. "January is rarely the time to do good business.”
The club’s position seems to be growing increasingly cautious; it would be a shame if Bruce was unable to make a few deals in January. A couple of defensive acquisitions would change the makeup of this team, and set their eyes firmly upwards, rather than over their shoulders.