Today is the first day of arguably one of the biggest weeks in Sunderland AFC’s history.
That may sound dramatic, but, with a bumper £5billion TV deal on offer to those clubs remaining in the Premier League next season, relegation is almost unthinkable.
This time next week, the January transfer window will be about to close. 11pm on Monday, February 1, is the cut-off for clubs to improve their squads.
And Sunderland are in desperate need of quality recruits – in defence and attack. Fast.
By Sam Allardyce’s own admission, he had hoped to have most of his transfer business done by this stage of the window – a notoriously difficult month in which to do business.
Panic buys and paying over the top for players is a common feature for clubs at this time of year.
But the Black Cats have no option but to be busy this week, the 1-1 draw with AFC Bournemouth further evidence the current crop isn’t good enough to stay up without some added help.
That won’t come as a surprise to supporters, who have been crying out for quality additions for weeks, if not months, now.
Sunderland have brought in Jan Kirchhoff from Bayern Munich, yet the centre-back was woeful on his debut and didn’t even make the squad against the Cherries.
A niggle picked up in training, the reason.
Senegal international Dame N’Doye, on loan from Trabzonspor, had a reasonable record at Hull City, scoring a goal every three games last season.
But he didn’t make it off the bench against Bournemouth.
And the third signing is veteran keeper Steve Harper.
A shrewd piece of business, with Harper coming in on a low wage to provide back-up to Vito Mannone and Jordan Pickford.
His wealth of experience will help those two on the training pitches but the 40-year-old won’t make a Sunderland appearance, unless something goes horribly wrong.
They aren’t the sort of marquee signings supporters were hoping for this month.
You can sympathise with fans when you see the likes of Bournemouth splashing £10million on new striker Benik Afobe and fellow relegation rivals Norwich City also spending big.
If Ellis Short was watching then alarm bells should have been ringing. Now is the time to open the purse strings. Before it really is too late.
But the problem is Sunderland are not flush with cash.
The club was on the limits of the Financial Fair Play wage restrictions before Costel Pantilimon and Danny Graham were shipped out.
More are set to follow, with Jordi Gomez among those free to leave. With Liam Bridcutt and Will Buckley also out on loan, Allardyce has freed up some much-needed wages.
The difficult part is attracting players to a club battling the drop, so Allardyce & Co are going to have to wheel and deal their socks off.
Andre Ayew would prove a major coup but Swansea City are adamant he isn’t for sale.
Money talks though and if Sunderland can scrape together the cash then a deal could yet be struck. The club needs more creative players and goalscorers. Ayew ticks both boxes.
What Sunderland can’t risk though is putting all their transfer eggs in one basket and ending up with nothing.
Quality additions are needed.
Because as one fan quipped, Sunderland looked like they couldn’t beat an egg in the draw with the Cherries.
An intriguing week lies ahead.