Boss Chris Coleman is preparing for difficult conversations with his Sunderland players, but finds himself no closer to the answers he needs to embark on a rebuild of the club.
Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Reading left the Black Cats six points adrift of safety with three games to play. League One football looks inevitable.
Coleman has made no attempts to hide his belief that owner Ellis Short must sell before the club can bounce back, and yesterday North East business G O’Brien & Sons were linked as being part of a consortium who could take on the challenge.
Uncertainty over the club’s debt, however, makes any deal complicated and, for now, Coleman is very much in the dark.
A number of parties have expressed an interest in the club, but no resolution is imminent.
“In terms of who needs to go and who will be staying, that will be conversatons between me and them across a table,” he said.
“But I can’t answer the question of how I am going to rebuild it because I don’t know who will be in charge. It is an impossible question.
“I moved my family up here to the area because it is not a short term fix.
“When I left Wales, I didn’t come because I wanted to manage in the Championship, I came because I wanted to manage Sunderland Football Club.
“It is two very different things. I am still manager of Sunderland Football Club.
“What I need to know, what we all need to know, is what is the plan from the man in charge – whoever that is going to be.
“I can’t answer that right now because I don’t know it. I know what we need to do, I have a plan.
“I have two plans. One is with a budget, one without. Until I know exactly who is going to be there dictating, it is a tough one.
“Uncertainty at a football club, every club is the same. We need to win – you are either fighting relegation or pushing for promotion.
“It affects people’s jobs, mine, the players, everyone. We are all affected by it. Some more than others. That is the same at every club.”
The Sunderland boss was again left to rue individual errors as another chance to claim three points was missed.
Increasingly, it feels as if only a significant turnover of players will correct the endemic failings.
Coleman said: “It is decision-making from individuals, collectively.
“That is what is is about. We concede against Norwich from a set play. You can work on set plays as much as you like in a training session, what you can’t do is replicate a pressurised situation in a game, in a stadium, against another team who it means just as much to.
“It is like when you take players from Under-23 football and throw them in the deep end, in men’s football, where it is all on it.
“It is hard to copy that pressure. So, it is all about decision-making.
“The more you are in it, the better you get at making decisions, because you are used to it.
“We have been in the bottom three for a long time, for a reason. Those crucial, critical questions that are asked, we don’t answer them. A lot of that is confidence.
“This season is like a hangover from last season’s relegation.
“Probably, at the start of the season, (Sunderland were) fancied for a promotion push – it never happened. There is a lot of negativity attached to the club, has been all season, maybe two seasons.
“It has been one thing after another.
“Everything, no matter what happens, is looked at on the pitch and that is results. No matter whatever is going on, what is scrutinised the most is results – and they haven’t been good enough.
“That happens sometimes. You have periods at clubs where things are going the wrong way, but I have said, for the past four or five months, it won’t always be like that.
“It won’t. Clubs bounce back. Sometimes they drop but come back even better and stronger.
“If that is the case for us then there is absolutely no reason why we can’t rebuild, in a better way for the longer run rather than short-term fixes.”