Michael Mancienne the man to shore up shaky Sunderland defence?
Sunderland, 5/1 shots with Coral to be relegated next season, are leading the chase for former Chelsea defender Michael Mancienne.
The 26-year-old has spent three seasons in the Bundesliga with Hamburg, but their brush with relegation, and the fact he only has a year left on his contract, mean he may return home. Mancienne was once called up to the senior England setup by Fabio Capello in 2008, yet remains uncapped.
According to the tabloids, Black Cats boss Gus Poyet has had the centre back recommended to him by sporting director Lee Congerton, who was at Stamford Bridge when Mancienne came through the academy.
Wearside outfit Sunderland are short in defence following Phil Bardsley’s free transfer to Stoke City, and the releasing of Carlos Cuellar, Modibo Diakite and Valentin Roberge. Although they are targeting a reported cut-price £1m deal for Mancienne, there is likely to be strong interest from elsewhere.
Relegated Fulham, Swansea City and Stoke are all looking at him too. QPR, a club where Mancienne spent 2006-2008 on loan at, also want to add him to their otherwise ageing defence. The Swans, like Sunderland, are 5/1 with Coral for the drop in 2014/15, while the Potters are 9/1 to be relegated next term.
Mancienne’s move to Germany, made after three campaigns on loan at Wolves, was made with his international ambitions in mind, but Capello and successor Roy Hodgson subsequently ignored his claims. His cause this term was not helped by the fact that Hamburg had three different managers and only preserved their Bundesliga status by winning a promotion/relegation play-off.
If Poyet can find clubs to offload Diakite and Roberge to, then Sunderland shall have just two senior defenders on their books. Wes Brown and Stadium of Light skipper John O’Shea are both well over 30, so younger legs in the Black Cats backline might improve their poor defensive record from this term for next.
Sunderland conceded 60 goals in 2013/14 Premier League, and their rear-guard is one area in particular where Poyet is looking to rebuild this summer. Mancienne appears to have the luxury of choosing from several suitors, however.