Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray has revealed his shock that there was not more interest shown in midfielder Alex Pritchard during the summer transfer window, according to quotes supplied by the Sunderland Echo.
The Black Cats were one of the most active teams in the market in the final days of the transfer window, bringing in Adil Aouchiche from Lorient and Timothee Pembele from Paris Saint-Germain, whilst Ross Stewart and Danny Batth departed for Southampton and Norwich City respectively.
The Wearside club’s unlikely run to the play-offs last season meant that there was significant interest in their players over the course of the summer, with Southampton also attempting to prise away winger Patrick Roberts in the lead up to Friday’s 11pm deadline.
As fate would have it, Sunderland hosted the Saints this past Saturday, sending a statement to the rest of the Championship with an impressive 5-0 win. It was a result which upset the form books, with Southampton previously unbeaten whilst Tony Mowbray’s side had stuttered in the early fixtures, struggling to find the back of the net.
Whilst there was a string of excellent performances from Sunderland’s youthful squad, 30-year-old Alex Pritchard made a big impact from the bench after spending the summer linked with a move away from the Stadium of Light. Mowbray was full of praise for the former Huddersfield Town man afterwards, saying;
“The discussion over Pritch, the quality – you see with your eyes what I see with mine.
“He gets the ball, he sticks it through someone’s legs, he hits a 40-yard diagonal ball, and we’re off away breaking in on goal and not everybody can do that.”
Continuing, Mowbray revealed that he will hold talks with the attacking midfielder regarding his role within the squad, whilst admitting he was shocked that there was not more interest in the player over the last few months;
“Alex (Pritchard), we will have chats. We have lots of chats already to be honest. What a good footballer he is.
“I’m just amazed the phone hasn’t rang as much as it might have done because he’s a wonderful footballer. We have to try and maximise his time on the pitch but also grow the young players that I’m talking about.
“Where’s he going to play? Is he going to play behind the striker? Well, we might play two strikers, we might play three strikers, we might need only two sitting midfielders. I have to do this with (Bradley) Dack and Pritchard and try and fit (Patrick) Roberts back in the team, I’ve just laughed with him coming up the stairs: “It’s going to be tough in two weeks time, Pat, I can’t change that team.”
Sunderland’s youthful squad means that the likes of Alex Pritchard can be a major asset during the tougher times of the season. He is an experienced professional with several seasons under his belt at Premier League and Championship level and that will only benefit the club throughout the campaign.
Saturday’s 5-0 win over Southampton shows that they can beat anyone on their day and Mowbray will be quietly targeting a play-off place for the second successive year. Although it appears as if Sunderland were willing to listen to offers for Pritchard throughout the summer, he is a player that will undoubtedly make them stronger.