With Sunderland now dumped out of the FA Cup, staring relegation in the face and scraping the barrel of the transfer market, it is no surprise to see the Wearside faithful losing faith in the hierarchy at the club over the past few months.
The Black Cats are without a victory this calendar year, with their last three points coming way back on December 17th, a narrow and fortunate 1-0 victory against Watford. Since then David Moyes’ side have managed two draws and seven defeats, conceding sixteen and scoring just five goals, with Jermain Defoe notching four of them.
It’s not just on the pitch where the Black Cats are struggling, however. The January transfer window has come and almost gone, with David Moyes so far only managing to secure the underwhelming free transfer of Joleon Lescott. You could argue that the winter window was the main reason Sunderland managed to stay up last season, however, fast forward 12 months and it could be one of the reasons Sunderland finally succumb to the drop. There is under a week to go until the window slams shut, and with suitors eyeing Sunderland's prize assets such as Jermain Defoe, Patrick Van Aanholt and Lamine Kone, David Moyes must decide whether to cash in on one of his key men in order to strengthen other areas.
It is important not to get too despondent with how things are on Wearside, I mean, it’s not like we haven't been here before, but what do we have we got to be positive about?
Return of key players
With several key first-team players having been on the shelf for several months now through injury, it is no surprise to see a dip in form coincide with this. At the time of writing, Sunderland have TEN players out injured - the most in the league. However, for many, there is light at the end of the tunnel, with first-team returns not too far away.
In fact, by the end of next month Jordan Pickford, Steven Pienaar, Javier Manquillo and Lynden Gooch could all return for David Moyes’ side, with the likes of Jan Kirchhoff and Lee Cattermole not too far behind them as they returned to light training this week.
Potential new arrivals
You can expect David Moyes to be busy in the next five days as the January transfer window comes to a conclusion. It is well known that we are skint, with Sunderland probably needing to sell one of their key players in order to reinvest. Patrick Van Aanholt is the most likely to depart, with Crystal Palace keen on a potential £12-million deal for the inconsistent defender.
A replacement left-back would be essential, whilst reinforcements for our threadbare midfield and support for Defoe up front could go a long way in aiding the Black Cats’ cause for survival. The arrivals of Lamine Kone, Wahbi Khazri and Jan Kirchhoff brought new life into Sunderland last season, and whilst we may not have the £15-million that was available last year, a significant portion of any sale would be available to reinvest. If so, you would hope that David Moyes proves more successful with his investments compared to the £30-million recklessly spent in the summer.
Experience and home form
As I stated before, if anybody knows how to escape relegation it’s Sunderland. Yes, David Moyes may not have the experience of these situations compared to Sam Allardyce, nor do his batch of young signings. However, the core of this Sunderland team is the same as the team who has guaranteed our top-flight status for almost a decade.
There are still 16 games to play this season, with just under half the campaign left to play. For all the negatives surrounding David Moyes’ tenure so far, Sunderland’s home form has been a small positive, with 11 of Sunderland’s 15 points coming on home turf. With five of the bottom ten teams still to play at the Stadium of Light, our fate is still very much in our own hands.
Quality within the squad
Yes, you may call me daft for saying this, however, Sunderland do have genuine quality within their squad. If you look at the bottom half of the table, you could argue that we have the best striker and goalkeeper down there in Defoe and Pickford, whilst in between them you have players like Lamine Kone, Adnan Januzaj and Jan Kirchhoff who are all very good players on their day.
It is down to David Moyes to prove himself over the next four months, he must get the best out if these players and get everyone playing for the same cause. Stop the negativity, and instill some confidence and belief into the squad. If he can do that, then I'm sure 48,000 Sunderland fans will continue to turn up week in and week out in their red and whites with “15, Lescott” on the back chanting and firmly believing that “Things can only get better”.