MARTIN O’Neill thought long and hard about the experienced striker he wanted at the head of his Sunderland squad before plumping for Louis Saha.
The Cats manager revealed he had been more pre-occupied with the search for emerging players who would spent their best years at the Stadium of Light, rather than the veteran that would help guide them on.
But having eventually considered a host of possibilities and settling on the 34-year-old ex-Manchester United, Everton and Spurs man, O’Neill was delighted to tie the deal up so quickly this week and have the player in the squad for today’s trip to the Emirates.
“In truth, Saha was mentioned very early on in the summer and I was aware that he was available,” he revealed.
“I wasn’t exactly sure about his plans after talking to his agent, whether he wanted to move back to the south of France, as seemed likely, or whether he still wanted to be in the Premier League.
“We left it for a number of weeks, but what I want is some younger people who can be around the scene for a few seasons.
“I always knew that regardless of whether we got those players in, we would want backup.
“There are a number of players in Europe in a similar situation to Louis, but I thought just recently that he would be the best option.
“For one, he’s played in the Premier League, and two he wanted a challenge again, at least for one more season.
“He felt that last season he was just getting into his stride.
“Of course he’s a decent player, if he can stay clear of injury.
“So from that viewpoint, I was aware of him for some time, but didn’t act until pretty recently.”
Having decided on Saha, he was pleased at how quickly the move was tied up.
He said: “He really wanted to come here and I think that was the pleasing thing.
“It didn’t take long at all to sort out.”