Soccer News of Saturday, 11 September 2010
£13.2m striker to make his debut against Wigan
'We've paid a lot of money for him so I expect him to do well'
When he signed Asamoah Gyan for £13.2m last month, Steve Bruce not only smashed Sunderland's transfer record but risked his managerial reputation. As the Ghana international striker prepares to make his debut at Wigan tomorrow it is no exaggeration to say that Gyan's success or failure on Wearside could make or break Bruce's career.
Should Gyan and Darren Bent form a menacing attacking pairing that establishes Sunderland as a top-10 side, their manager's future at the Stadium of Light will be assured with the prospect of bigger jobs to follow.
Yet if Gyan struggles to adapt from life in the less demanding French League with Rennes, Sunderland fans – and directors – will start asking why Bruce was so keen to sell Kenwyne Jones, a crowd favourite, to Stoke City for £8m this summer.
"We've paid a hell of a lot of money for Asamoah, so I expect him to do well," said Bruce, who first spotted Gyan playing for Ghana in an international friendly staged at Millwall three years ago.
If a relatively modest 14 goals in two seasons with Rennes, who recruited him from Udinese for €8m (£6.6m), suggest that Gyan, who invariably operated as a lone striker, is more target man than prolific predator, Bruce already knows he has acquired one of African football's biggest personalities.
"When Asamoah signed in the boardroom he asked if he could make a call to his family," he said. "He got the telephone and put it on loudspeaker. He said 'I'm just about to sign'. I don't know how many brothers and sisters he's got but they all started singing. Then he started singing with them. It was quite bizarre. There must have been about 20 in the family and you could hear them all."
A part-time rapper and hip hop artist – Gyan's single, African Girls, jointly recorded with Castro The Destroyer, is currently a big hit in Accra – he may be but Bruce is confident a player dubbed "Baby Jet" on account of his scorching pace will prove easier to manage than the sometimes overly laid back Jones. "Asamoah's very well educated," he said. "It helps that his English is excellent, it's better than mine. And what I like about him is he's so full of life, so full of energy.
"He's going to be a handful to manage but I think one of those nice handfuls. The way he lives his life is going to be colourful, put it that way."
The Sunderland manager certainly has no qualms about Gyan's capacity to adjust to the rigours of English football. "Physically, Africans are better than most," he said. "They can handle the demands. They are fairly brutal. You watch these African Nations Cup games and they tear into each other. I don't think adapting is going to be a problem for Asamoah."
Bruce's fear was that, having sold Jones to Stoke, Gyan would end up accepting a lucrative offer from Fenerbahce, but when the Istanbul club were knocked out of the Champions League the ball was back in Sunderland's court.
"After the Turkey thing fell through all Asamoah really wanted to do was come and play in the Premier League," said Bruce. "I've got myself a very good player. I wouldn't have paid all that money if I didn't believe that."