Chris Young: Moyes and Bain will have worked tirelessly, but next transfer window will prove decisive for Sunderland

Adnan Januzaj.
Adnan Januzaj.
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The midnight chimes of Big Ben will be music to the ears of Sunderland chief executive Martin Bain tonight ... providing of course that there is plenty in the Black Cats shopping basket on the final day of the summer market.

Bain’s baptism of fire at the Stadium of Light has left the Scot being constantly treated for third degree burns, such have been the trials and tribulations of his opening two months at the helm.

But after the transfer window shuts at 11.30pm tonight, he can allow himself a gulp of oxygen.

Prior to heading to a scalding hot California earlier this month, I joked with Bain that he needed to put a giant red ring around September 1 in his diary. He insisted that it was already etched in stone.

Eventually, after two months of managerial departures and arrivals, new signings, collapsed transfers, unexpected departures, contract disputes, failed medicals and yes, a game or two, Bain can take a minute to draw breath and actually begin his remit of giving this club some direction.

The window has not been any easier for David Moyes, of course, as the new Sunderland manager has had to contend with what has realistically been a scratch team until the arrival of fresh faces. Just look at what a difference it made to have an experienced right-back, for example, in Javier Manquillo at Southampton last weekend.

But while this window has been painful and frustrating, make no mistake, Moyes will ALREADY be looking longingly towards January.

The New Year, rather than this summer, will be the first ‘proper’ opportunity for the ex-Manchester United manager to genuinely assemble a squad to his taste, rather than being dictated to by the sands of time and the meagre few players who have been available for a reasonable sum.

Moyes will have four months, not four minutes, to prepare for January and he can use that time to watch potential targets in the flesh, sound out their agents and negotiate fees which fall into Sunderland’s limited budget.

He has done a bit of that homework this summer – scouting midfielder Oliver Burke before his £13million move from Nottingham Forest to Red Bull Leipzig – but nothing like to the extent he would have wanted or did at Everton, where he unearthed hidden Championship gems such as Tim Cahill, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka.

After inheriting a squad with no fresh faces midway through July, Moyes had no time for swatting up. He needed new signings, and fast.

But doing that on a budget, particularly in a window where transfer fees have rocketed from the new television deal, has been a gruelling challenge. It’s never easy to sign players for perennial relegation fighters Sunderland, but this summer, it’s been doubly difficult.

Even those signings which should have been straightforward, such as Yann M’Vila, have proved beyond Sunderland. Rubin Kazan’s determination to bank a sizeable fee has left the Black Cats willing to wait until the Frenchman’s contract expires in January, unless the Russian club dramatically drop their asking price today.

Throw in the unexpected and damaging departure of Younes Kaboul, plus Lamine Kone’s attempt to bolster his bank balance, and it has been a window of painful fire-fighting.

Encouragingly though, the first-teamers who have come in are beginning to make an impact.

Donald Love and Paddy McNair have to be taken out of that equation, despite Sunderland shelling out more than £5m to land the ex-Manchester United pair. Moyes always made it clear that he wanted to sign some players for the future and watching the duo’s struggles in the first couple of games, they clearly fall into that category.

But there has been encouragement from the performances of Manquillo, Adnan Januzaj, Steven Pienaar and Papy Djilobodji, particularly in what may turn out to be a significant point at Southampton.

Manquillo and Januzaj obviously have pedigree from their previous employers, Pienaar still has a bit left in the tank and Djilobodji has the raw tools to succeed in the Premier League, even if he remains distinctly naive to the nuisances of this level.

If those four, plus the three or four who arrive in the final hours of the window, can provide Sunderland with a solid platform, then it allows the likes of McNair and Love to be gradually incorporated into the first-team set-up.

Even if they do thrive though, Moyes took a punt on all four. In January, he will be determined to narrow the odds significantly in his favour.