Why the next 17 days is one of THE most important spells in Sunderland's history
Sunderland are not blessed with a squad of players in demand but they do have one or two saleable assets they could cash in on this month, notably Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong.
The biggest asset, though, is Chris Coleman.
And Sunderland’s hierarchy has 17 days in which to give him the tools needed to help steer the club away from the very real threat of relegation to League One.
Work is ongoing behind the scenes around the clock, with Martin Bain leading the recruitment negotiations but the clock is ticking.
Bain and Coleman are working under very tight parameters, set by owner Ellis Short.
Loan signings will dominate.
There is no budget available for permanent signings at cash-strapped Sunderland. That would only change if a hefty sum arrived following the sale of Kone or Ndong.
And even then, Coleman would likely only be handed a fraction of it to help reshape the squad.
A squad in desperate need of quality additions otherwise a successive relegation is staring them square in the face.
In the aftermath of the 4-0 thrashing at Cardiff City, a humiliating second half ‘performance’ played out live to the watching nation, Coleman was fuming.
No surprise given the dross he had just watched unfold.
Inevitably, Coleman was asked whether he regretted resigning from his Wales post to take charge at the Stadium of Light.
“No regrets. I’m at an absolutely fabulous football club,” Coleman said.
“Yes it’s hard now, tough and sometimes it feels like no matter what direction we walk in we’re going to come up against a brick wall.
“But I’ve been there before and you’ve just got to find answers and solutions.”
Ask him again at the end of January if Sunderland haven’t delivered the four further signings – including two strikers – so desperately needed.
Coleman arrived with a wave of confidence and hope for a brighter future and with three wins quickly under his belt, it appeared Sunderland would get out of trouble.
Defeat to Cardiff was a stark reminder of the huge challenge facing Coleman and what he has to work with.
An injury-depleted, patched-up team with an over reliance on youth, a lack of goals and creativity throughout the team, which has a soft underbelly and an all-too regular ability to self-destruct.
Coleman isn’t a miracle worker and needs help this month in the shape of two strikers, a creative midfielder and a holding midfielder.
Four wins from 27 games. A dismal, dire, atrocious record. The next 17 days are absolutely crucial.
Arguably, the rest of January is one of THE most important spells in the club’s history.