Why Sunderland's summer transfer business has hampered Chris Coleman's cause more than helping it

This is yet another January window in which Sunderland will have to focus on the short-term priority of survival.

Robbin Ruiter.
Robbin Ruiter.

Weighed down by falling revenue and a still large wage bill, Chris Coleman will have to make temporary additions.

With some youngsters, there may well be a hope that if the Black Cats can beat the drop and these players get regular playing time, Sunderland will be in pole position to go and secure a loan for next season as well, if they are available.

That may be in the back of Coleman’s mind as he makes his moves. Certainly, he will now have a much clearer picture of the players he wants in his side to push up the table next season if Sunderland can survive this campaign.

How many of last summer’s signings will feature prominently in that thinking?

Few, you would have to expect.

While Sunderland were hamstrung by their inability to sell many of last season’s ailing squad, and bouncing back from relegation has proved to be an immensely difficult task for any club in recent years, it has to be said that four months on the business done has hampered as much as helped Sunderland’s cause.

Martin Bain spoke of a successful window in which Sunderland had recruited players with the hunger to make a difference and a desire to make the difference. That may be true, with many playing through the pain barrier for Chris Coleman over the festive period, but the quality on offer has been a mixed bag.

Tyias Browning has been a definite success. Lewis Grabban scored regularly before his departure. Aside from that, few have done enough to nail down a place in the side.

Brendan Galloway looked a canny signing but has struggled, while much the same can be said for Aiden McGeady, Callum McManaman and James Vaughan.

In goal, the failure to replace Vito Mannone has cost Sunderland points on a regular basis. Robbin Ruiter has improved massively in recent weeks but it would still come as no surprise should Coleman look for a new No 1 in the summer.

David Moyes spoke towards the end of last season about needed a ‘robust’ squad for the Championship and identifying targets accordingly.

Sunderland’s wretched injury record again this season suggests they have been unable to do so.

It will not be a problem easily solved, with longer term contracts on good money given to McGeady, McManaman and Jason Steele.

Of course, there is every chance that they could improve and go on to make an impact. McGeady performed well in the early stages of the season while Coleman believes McManaman has a lot to offer and has been unfortunate in his Sunderland career so far.

It may well be that early conclusions to Galloway and Jonny Williams’ loans could give the Black Cats boss more to play with this month, too.

Nevertheless, it underlines the need for the latest recruitment set-up, led by Coleman and new head of recruitment Neale McDermott, to get things right.

Dropping down a division has not made it any easier for Sunderland to find the winning formula and another mixed summer has left them behind the curve yet again. The squad Coleman inherited was unbalanced and with no obvious identity to take on to the pitch.

Short-term inspiration is needed to salvage this season and much greater clarity is needed to prevent it from happening again next.

Coleman will have the answers and he will need better support to deliver it.