If Sunderland are to avoid a devastating second consecutive relegation then Chris Coleman needs to have a seriously good January transfer window, similar to the one Sam Allardyce had a couple of years ago.
We know Coleman won’t have anywhere near the money Big Sam had, but no one could say Allardyce didn’t spend it wisely on Lamine Kone, Jan Kirchhoff and Wahbi Khazri.
All three improved the starting XI. Kone, back when he was good, struck up a brilliant partnership with Younes Kaboul – as good as any centre back pairing I have seen at Sunderland in the Premier League years – until it was broken up when Kaboul was disappointingly sold to Watford.
Jan Kirchhoff brought something of a presence to the midfield.
He also had an eye for a pass, while at the same time with Lee Cattermole and Yann M’Vila either side of him, protected the back four superbly.
Khazri was the last piece of the jigsaw, weighing in with vital goals and assists and dangerous at set pieces, while supporting the main striker Jermain Defoe.
Every department of the team, back four, midfield and front line was strengthened and improved that January and somehow Coleman has to do a similar job, only this time on a shoestring.
So it looks like the Sunderland boss will have to be very creative in his dealings; loan signings, bargains, maybe even free agents, but as he said he knew the financial situation when he signed.
Whenever any team is bottom of the league well into the second half of the season, the manager has a crisis on his hands and it is not an exaggeration to say Coleman and his recruitment team’s work in this window could well determine which division Sunderland are operating in next season.
Before the window had barely opened, top scorer Lewis Grabban disappointingly bailed out and with James Vaughan’s departure to Wigan Athletic, Sunderland now need a minimum of two new strikers.
Promising Chelsea youngster Jake Clarke-Salter is the first recruit to arrive on Wearside, while Liverpool youngster Ben Woodburn has long been on Sunderland’s radar and with his links to Coleman through the Wales set-up, I’m hoping that gives us an advantage for his signature.
Young hungry players who haven’t established themselves at their parent club could make up the majority of Coleman’s signings.
Let’s hope though whoever does come in has the same impact that Allardyce’s signings did two years ago.