Richard Mennear: No miracle cure for Sunderland, turning around fortunes will take time, patience and cold, hard cash

With just two points from 10 games, eight points from safety and the worst ever start in the club's history, the long winter of discontent has started early on Wearside.

Thursday, 3rd November 2016, 2:14 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:50 pm
Sunderland manager David Moyes

After overseeing the dismal start, the pressure is understandably on manager David Moyes.

The 53-year-old is in no imminent danger, with Sunderland keen to avoid the need to appoint a seventh permanent manager in just five years.

Moyes has come in for heavy criticism, particularly on social media, but as yet there have been no anti-Moyes chants at matches.

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Boos did ring out after Arsenal scored their fourth, with a significant chunk of home support leaving.

But there is also a large number who have sympathy for the predicament facing Moyes and the wider context facing the club.

Moyes has come under criticism for his signings with non of the 10 new faces yet to win fans over.

In fairness, Moyes took charge towards the end of July and had just five-and-a-half weeks to assess his squad and bring in new signings before the transfer window closed, with the start of the season to contend with too.

A baptism of fire. Sunderland’s Premier League campaign, though, has failed to ignite.

Sunderland can’t simply slip into the Championship but with a quarter of the season gone and just two points on the board, that is quickly becoming the reality.

The problems this season cannot, though, be laid solely at the door of Moyes. It is a culmination of issues that have hit home with a bang.

The constant conveyor belt of managers is one of the reasons Sunderland are in this current mess; the cost involved, player turnover and constant fire fighting every transfer window.

Short-term it has had the desired effect but long-term it is no solution.

The club needs stability in the dugout and fresh investment.

Owner Ellis Short has bankrolled Sunderland since he took charge seven years ago, investing more than £200m of his own cash into the club.

He has faced criticism over the club’s transfer business, although Sunderland spent £27.12million this summer - the 10th highest net spend.

You can’t accuse him of not pumping money in.

Problem is, Short - who covers every annual shortfall that Sunderland make in their budget - has got very little back from it.

Over the years, Sunderland have not made enough money from the sale of players. This summer, alone, just £6.5m was recouped for more than a dozen players shipped out.

It is a problem new chief executive Martin Bain has been quick to highlight as an area for stark improvement.

That lack of income is hampering the ability to improve the squad.

Also, in September, Sunderland paid the first instalment on Fabio Borini - a year after he joined from Liverpool for about £8million.

Ever since Sunderland returned to the Premier League, they have tended to buy players in staggered payments, and they are far from alone in that policy. It is just another factor to consider when discussing the club’s financial position.

It is clear fresh investment is needed. The squad needs a complete overhaul.

There was initial interest earlier in the summer about a possible takeover from a Far East consortia - with the club reported to be valued about the £150million mark - but that did not materialise.

Neither Short nor the club has publicly stated the club is up for sale, though that could change if the owner felt it was in the best interests of Sunderland.

Many will argue the club’s transfer funds were boosted to the tune of an extra £30m by the new Premier League television deal.

Sunderland, though, were £25m in the red for the 2014-15 financial year.

As a result, that extra cash doesn’t go far and besides, all the TV deal has done is inflate transfer prices.

Sunderland - provided they are still in touching distance of Premier League safety - will need reinforcements in January.

A striker and defensive reinforcements are key, especially with the club potentially losing four first team players for several weeks to the Africa Cup of Nations.

However, funds are limited and the wage bill is close to the Financial Fair Play regulations cap.

With Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United) and Jason Denayer (Manchester City) on season-long loans, Sunderland don’t have any more scope for domestic loans. Further loans from abroad does remain an option, though.

How close the club is to safety is likely to determine the January business.

Bain, in his video interviews with the club, comes across as a shrewd operator and he wants Sunderland to get back to its North East roots.

Meetings with representatives of the various supporters’ branches and the visit to the Nissan car plant help on that front - all part of the plan to engage more with the community.

Ultimately, fans want a successful football team, not one battling for survival season in, season out.

Moyes has endured a torrid start but replacing the manager won’t fix the main problems engulfing Sunderland.

There is no miracle cure for the Black Cats, that much is clear.

Turning around Sunderland’s fortunes will take time, patience and cold, hard cash. Easier said, than done.