Stewart Donald sent a clear message as Phil Parkinson's transfer priority emerges: three key conclusions from Sunderland 0-0 Bolton
Sunderland’s 0-0 draw with Bolton Wanderers produced plenty of conclusions – ahead of what looks set to be a crucial period for the club both on and off the field.
Here’s what we learned from the stalemate at the Stadium of Light:
Phil Parkinson’s January priority is clear
Much has been made of the fact that Sunderland need some extra attacking firepower in January and, while that is the case, defensive improvements are also required.
A more clinical side could have put three past the Black Cats in the early stages at the Stadium of Light – with stray passes and poor tracking during the defensive transition handing Bolton some golden opportunities.
It was these issues which blighted the second half of last season and saw Sunderland slip away from automatic promotion contention, and they are yet to be eradicated.
So, while Parkinson will be looking for a new number nine once the winter window swings open, there can be no hiding from the fact the Black Cats aren’t good enough defensively.
Stewart Donald is sent a clear message
For the third home game on the trot, Stewart Donald was present at the Stadium of Light. So too were new non-executive directors, David Jones and Tom Sloanes.
And they will have been left under no illusions as to how the fanbase are currently feeling, with fans vocal in their desire to see Parkinson dismissed.
That’s a decision which is now in Donald’s hands, but questions undoubtedly will have to be asked as to whether the club will entrust Parkinson with what looks set to be a crucial January window.
Style is still lacking – and alarm bells should be ringing
Sunderland had almost a fortnight to work on the training ground following their last League One outing, but still it remains unclear exactly what type of football Phil Parkinson wants to instil on Wearside.
Staff and players have spoken of the club finding its identity on the field, but that is yet to translate to any competitive outing.
Sunderland have no clear plan, no clear outlet and Parkinson’s mitigating factors have now all vanished. Something needs to change.