MARTIN O’NEILL today insisted Sunderland will not be held to ransom in the transfer market.
The Sunderland boss did not mention Wolves or the West Midlands club’s wantaway striker Steven Fletcher by name when he outlined his current approach to the transfer marker.
But there could be little doubt he was talking about both when he warned that Sunderland would switch their attentions elsewhere rather than pay hugely inflated prices for their main targets.
Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey gave a public rebuke to the Black Cats earlier this week after rejecting Sunderland bids of £10million, £12m and a club record-equalling £13m for a player they value at £15m.
Moxey effectively told Sunderland to stump up the £15m or back out.
But O’Neill has indicated that while he will continue to chase his first-choice target, Sunderland’s interest has its limits.
“There are certain targets,” O’Neill said.
“If they doesn’t materialise, of course I have other people in mind – that I’ve always had in mind.
“But I would like to try to chase down the people who I think would be absolutely ideal for the club.
“Like everything in the transfer market, you think that somebody is worth X amount of pounds but if the other football club value them in a different light – which is totally and utterly their prerogative – and you can’t reach an agreement, then there are other alternatives.
“That’s the nature of the game.”
With the Fletcher saga dragging on and so far no nearer resolution, O’Neill moved swiftly this week to get in experienced striker Louis Saha on a Bosman free transfer to boost his options ahead of today’s season opener against Arsenal.
Saha’s arrival has eased some of the pressure and given the manager some breathing space.
But O’Neill is determined to bring in more new faces before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that we still need some goal power,” the Irishman said.