Jack Rodwell: Why Sunderland are prepared to cut their losses and what it could mean for Chris Coleman
Chris Coleman arrived at Sunderland determined to prevent a successive relegation.
Yet the ghosts of the previous one were still lurking around every corner.
Fans were dismayed in the summer when Sunderland spent so little on players and rightly so. The squad was left lacking in crucial areas and unsurprisingly, the Black Cats are being punished for it.
Behind the scenes, the concern was as much about the lack of outgoings.
Simon Grayson had initially expected and indeed hoped that Sunderland would raise more money and offload more players than they eventually did. Some good deals were secured but with the likes of Wahbi Khazri and Papy Djilobodji, it seemed Sunderland were keen simply to move them on by the end. Grayson publicly thanked the club for backing him on that front.
The sense remained that they had not been able to go far enough.
At that point the idea of tearing up contracts was mooted but never progressed to a serious stage.
A few months on, the arrival of Chris Coleman and the continuing poor form on the pitch has given fresh impetus to that and the process of overhauling the squad has been accelerated.
Mika has left six months before the end of his contract. Didier Ndong looks to be edging slowly, but surely towards the exit.
James Vaughan, who it must be said was touted as exactly the kind of personality Sunderland needed after signing, was unceremoniously moved on.
They now hope that Jack Rodwell will do the same.
There are two elements to it.
Firstly, it could free up some valuable room on the wage bill for Coleman to reinvest in players who are prepared to get stuck in for the rest of the season. It is no secret that the club have lots of money tied up in players that Coleman does not see as part of his long-term plans.
Funds created by moving them on could allow the Sunderland boss to target slightly more experienced, higher calibre players.
Consider this Coleman quote from a fortnight ago for reference: “There’s loads of players that could help us in the positions we need, and they need first team experience, Premier League players, younger players, but when we get down to the wages, we can’t do it.”
More than anyone, Rodwell’s departure would change the immediate picture.
Secondly, it would allow Coleman to move on another figure associated with Sunderland’s decline and freshen things up. As he keeps saying himself, ‘Why keep things the same?’ Something has to change.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether the 26-year-old will take up the offer to walk away without a pay-off. That almost two weeks have passed since it was made suggests not.
Sunderland may need to get back round the table and compromise but their approach is certainly the right one.
There is no greater symbol of the mess Sunderland made in recruitment during the second half of their time in the Premier League than Rodwell, a player signed on reputation and whim rather than logic.
Those mistakes continue to prevent the club moving forward and building a more dynamic squad.
Chris Coleman needs money and a blank canvas to paint a new picture for tired Sunderland supporters. Drastic action to try and make it happen is long overdue.