The arrival of attacking reinforcements and Premier League loan cover for the injured Denver Hume constituted a success in the eyes of many, but former Black Cats hero Kevin Phillips has argued that his old club missed a trick by failing to sign a new goalkeeper.
Both Lee Johnson and previous boss have alternated between Lee Burge and Remi Matthews between the sticks this term, but after a recent shaky spell from both stoppers, the ex-England hitman has suggested that the Wearsiders should have moved to strengthen in that area last month.
Speaking to Football Insider, he said: “They obviously feel it is an area they are comfortable in but a performance like that perhaps highlights the need for a goalkeeper. It is an area Lee Johnson should have potentially looked at last month.
“Hopefully Matthews will put it to bed though and come good.
“The keeper cannot be blamed completely. Things are not going as planned and a lot of people are unhappy. It is typical Sunderland.”
Interestingly, however, the stats would suggest that neither Burge or Matthews are having a terrible season.
According to Wyscout, the former has conceded 16 goals from an xCG (expected goals conceded) of 21.53, while the latter has conceded 11 from an xCG of 11.32.
In the case of Burge in particular, the data would have you believe that he is actually outperforming expectations.
Whether Sunderland fans agree with that is a different matter entirely.
Elsewhere, financial expert Kieran Maguire has argued that the EFL’s decision to scrap their salary cap could be majorly advantageous for the Black Cats – assuming they fail to get promoted this term.
Following a legal challenge, initial plans to limit wage bills in League One to £2.5 million have been mothballed, and with the Wearsiders’ bid for promotion this term looking somewhat uncertain after a string of disappointing results, Maguire believes that a lack of restrictions could really benefit them if they have to face a fourth season in the third tier.
Speaking to Football Insider, he said: “Sunderland voted against the salary cap when the votes took place in August along with the majority of the large clubs in League One.
“The vote was 16 in favour, which was just enough. You needed a two-thirds majority so they just managed to squeeze it through.
“Sunderland weren’t happy, nor were Ipswich, Charlton, Hull etcetera, the clubs with the bigger fanbases and revenue streams.
“So this new development will give those clubs an advantage in their ability to recruit players on more lucrative contracts, which in turn will increase their chances of being promoted.
“It won’t have a significant impact on this season because we’ve had both transfer windows.
“If Sunderland are still in League One next season, they will have a better chance.
“The downside is for the smaller clubs who had up until this decision had a level playing field.”
The PFA also voiced their support for the salary cap being scrapped when a decision was taken to reverse the policy last week.
We’ve gathered the rest of today’s League One rumours below: