Let’s imagine the summer window shuts in the next five minutes.
Jim White – pronouncing himself ‘Mr. Deadline Day’ - is bouncing off the walls in the Sky Sports quarters over a spontaneous turn of events in a Cameron Jerome transfer. On Wearside we remain anonymous; we still can’t attract anyone due to the perpetual tedium of managerial uncertainty. You can see it now.
This is our worst case scenario – time to assess our team.
Starting at the back, the options are Vito Mannone or Jordan Pickford, both of which are solid choices. Given the momentum of Pickford’s career in particular, it’s looking like the lad may as well be a new signing, should be leap frog his Italian competitor and claim the number one shirt. No real worries here.
Next up is the back line. Kone and Kaboul proved to be an uncompromising partnership in the heart of our defence toward the end of last season, and will undoubtedly be undisputed first choices.
Squad depth, however, is a crucial issue – for want of an understatement. Should either of these two get injured (I’m looking at you, Younes), the only option is to fall back on a John O’Shea who’s withering with age as we speak.
Having Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt as the only options for dedicated full-backs would also divide opinion as well as confidence.
In midfield, we the same issue as we do in defence. Cattermole and Kirchhoff are the obvious choices to work the centre of the park, but should a suspension hit the former or an injury debilitate the latter, then we fall back on a want-away Seb Larsson or Jack Rodwell.
Borini, Watmore and Khazri are the options for wingers, which isn’t a terrible situation to be in, but the duties of the first two overlap with the need for a striker. Defoe is our only out-and-out goal scorer.
The solution, therefore, would be a disheartening one. Players we considered surplus would have to re-join the ranks of the first team – and given the fact that the likes of Will Buckley didn’t make the trip to Austria for pre-season due to their lack of quality, it could well be a detriment to morale and fitness to simply throw them back in.
To conclude, all I can do is reaffirm what we all already know, but it’s worth breaking down to give Sunderland fans a real perspective on just how dire our situation could be.
The nightmare of our worst-case scenario is still more than unlikely to ever actually occur, but anything remotely similar to it is still likely to leave us greatly lacking in some shape or form.
We need players over the line, they need to be good, and they need to hurry.