Danny Batth became Sunderland’s second signing of the January transfer window on Tuesday when he joined from Stoke City on an 18-month contract.
The 31-year-old has an impressive CV, having achieved promotion with both Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday during his career, but is Batth the man to help plug the glaring holes in our defence?
Despite not featuring much at the start of the season, Danny Batth started 11 consecutive games for Stoke and started against Preston as recently as two weeks ago, with this in mind did his departure come as something of a surprise?
“A little bit yes, but we have signed two centre halves in the past week though, and we do need to get rid of some wages as this is now our third year in the Championship since relegation.
The experienced Phil Jagielka joined us from Derby, whilst the much-vaunted youngster Taylor Harwood-Bellis came to us on loan from Manchester City.
We’ve struggled at the back since Harry Souttar did his ACL on international duty. Possibly/probably the best ball-playing centre half in our league, Souttar has been a massive loss and has affected how we play. But Danny has never let us down, and is a totally committed player.”
How would you sum up his time at Stoke?
“As stated above, Danny never lets you down as he gives everything, every game. He’s what you’d call an old school defender; he blocks, he heads, he clears.
He joined us in January 2019 on a three-and-a-half year contract for £3 million and was almost immediately made captain, a sign of the esteem that then manager Nathan Jones held him in. Not Danny’s fault that Jones was a complete waste of space whilst in ST4, and he did pretty well for the rest of the season.
Jones was soon gone, thankfully, and Michael O’Neill came in and performed a minor miracle in keeping us up despite needing snookers. Above everything else, Danny Batth was an integral part in keeping Stoke City from being the next TV documentary – sorry to bring that up, folks.
Danny scored in three of the final four matches as we took ten points from the final twelve to avoid relegation and somehow stayed up after the absolute state that Nathan Jones (and the two managers before him) had left us in. Make no mistake, Danny Batth was excellent in games where we needed players to roll their sleeves up and die for the cause.”
What would say are his strengths and weaknesses?
“You know exactly what you’re going to get with Danny. No-nonsense, old-fashioned defending.
Head and boot crosses away, win physical battles, and a huge presence in both boxes. Leadership on and off the pitch, and just a solid professional footballer who has never let our club down.
You also know that he isn’t Franz Beckenbauer on the ball, nor Usain Bolt either.”
During his time at Stoke has he played as part of a back three, if so how did he look, if not do you think he’s got the tools to play as one of three centre halves?
“Hmmm, tough one this. If so, he has to be the central defender of the three as he would get exposed out in wide areas.
I’d want him in a four to be honest, but if played centrally and asked just to defend the box I doubt you’ll find a better defender in your league. His passing isn’t his forte, and opposition teams may let him have the ball at times, but I doubt you’ve bought him to start the play.”
What kind of character are we getting?
“A leader, and a bit of a warrior. The kind who puts his head in amongst the boots, and it’s surprising that he’s such a good looking lad! Never heard any player moan about him, he’s just a really decent bloke, who will give everything for your cause.
Should we get promoted, do you think he is still capable of performing consistently at Championship level?
Yes. How successful depends on how you set up defensively, but he’s proved over the years that he’s more than capable in the Championship. We want to play in a different way I suppose, play out from the back and take a few more gambles – hence why we’ve sold him, but most Stokies will wish him nothing but well as he never left anything on the pitch for us.”
Thanks to Anthony for his time. Make sure you pay a visit to DUCK Magazine