Chris Young: Transfer window as much about selling as buying for Sunderland

Danny Graham
Danny Graham
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It’s all been a bit of an anti-climax at the start of the transfer window, hasn’t it?

Perhaps one of the side-effects of appointing a new manager in October is that there are two months of build-up over how he will remodel a struggling side at the first opportunity.

But despite such expectations, there has been no flood of fresh blood; no unveiling of two or three captures once January 2 dawned.

Let’s face it, there rarely is. January is invariably the month where speculation is torrential, but actual deals are scarce.

Of course, Sunderland require at least a couple of reinforcements and Allardyce needs to find some gems among those willing to join a relegation-threatened side, and not just for a lucrative pay day.

This month is not just about the incomings though. The outgoings are almost just as important.

Before the cynics begin to crow, that’s nothing to do with cutting the cloth ahead of a potential stint in the Championship.

Allardyce wouldn’t countenance such defeatism and it’s far too premature to even begin any planning for life in the second tier.

Even when Sunderland’s plight looked so bleak two years ago, the prospect of how the club would operate and recruit in the Championship wasn’t formally discussed until the end of March.

But Sunderland desperately need to lighten the load on the wage bill to bring in new recruits after collective salaries at the Stadium of Light have risen significantly over the last year or so.

The club are right on the limits of what they are allowed to spend on wages under the Premier League’s own guidelines (ironically the ones proposed by Ellis Short).

It’s not necessarily because Sunderland pay far more generously than their Premier League rivals, even though the likes of Adam Johnson, Jeremain Lens and Jermain Defoe are predictably on big-money deals.

Sunderland’s problem - and has been for far too many years – is that there are a host of players at the club who are either used sparingly or don’t play at all and provide little or no return.

Collectively, their pay is a big drain on the club’s resources.

It goes without saying that Sunderland are continuing their efforts to offload the likes of Will Buckley, Valentin Roberge and Charis Mavrias – with the latter pair not even given squad numbers during the summer.

The likelihood is that Sunderland will have to do deals similar to the one which has seen Liam Bridcutt move to Leeds until the end of the season, with the Black Cats continuing to pick up the tab for a portion of his pay packet.

But it’s not just the dead-wood that have to go.

There WILL have to be more notable departures from the first-team squad.

One of the three goalkeepers will almost certainly depart, with Allardyce keen to integrate Jordan Pickford into the first-team picture, albeit there remains a chance that the 21-year-old could head out on loan again at the end of the month.

Vito Mannone’s second coming has pushed Costel Pantilimon closer to the exit door and the Romanian is importantly on a much bigger salary than the Italian.

That could be a factor, particularly if Sunderland receive a decent offer for Pantilimon.

With Allardyce keen to bring in a new frontman, there’s a similar scenario with Sunderland’s striker ranks.

Both Danny Graham and Steven Fletcher are out of contract in the summer and this is the club’s last chance to cash in on either, although the latter is the only one likely to recoup much of a transfer fee.

Sunderland are ready to let Graham leave, amidst interest from Blackburn. With Fletcher enjoying something of a renaissance under Allardyce, the ex-Swansea man is far closer to the exit door.

But they are not alone among players on decent money who could be sacrificed.

Jordi Gomez has started just three times under Allardyce, amidst rumoured interest from Serie A.

Lens is clearly unsettled at the club, has prompted concerns over his work-rate and does not appear to be particularly enamored over Allardyce’s approach.

And there is always the possibility that Sunderland could negotiate premature conclusions to the loans of Ola Toivonen and DeAndre Yedlin.

There’s going to have to be several departures though.

Given Sunderland’s current league position, there perhaps needs to be.