Sunderland have swooped to sign Tommy Smith (BBC Sport) until the end of the season, to patch up the defence in a bid to make promotion at the second time of asking.
Arguably, the mistake that led to Mick McCarthy losing the fans at Ipswich was allowing Thomas Jefferson Smith to leave for Colorado Rapids. Has Paul Lambert just missed the chance to right the ship? The 29-year-old has been training at Ipswich, but Lambert ruled out a return, which would have gone down well with the fans.
So who is Sunderland’s new defender? Well, Smith was born in Macclesfield but spent the large part of his footballing education in Suffolk, where he became a fan favourite, racking up 247 defensive appearances. More impressively though were 21 goals, mostly headers from set-pieces, although a deft finish against the old foe up the road certainly made him popular too.
60 games in the MLS saw an also impressive return of seven goals but the former Ipswich defender is best suited as a last-ditch tackling machine, quick on the turn, and often ready for the slide. Smith will instantly win over the Sunderland fans with his committed style, although he has also knocked a few own goals in too – part of the ‘footballing education’ of a defender though.
When McCarthy let Tommy leave Ipswich, in favour of keeping the ageing pair of Chambers and Berra, it signalled an unwillingness to move with the times. Then, Christophe Berra wanted to return to Scotland and the defence never looked quite as organised. Adam Webster did look like a signing but he was moved on for big money and the rest is history.
Tommy is a popular chap, on and off the pitch and I am sure that if he arrives on the pitch for Sunderland, they will be chanting his name come May.