Irrespective of what actually happens with Sunderland’s leading goalscorer Lewis Grabban when the January transfer window opens in a matter of weeks, we must plan accordingly just in case the worst happens.
The fact of the matter is that Bournemouth are free to recall Grabban should they wish to do so, such are the terms that Sunderland agreed to upon signing for the forward on loan in the summer.
We know this because both Eddie Howe and Chris Coleman have publicly confirmed that this is the case, a reality brought about due to our poor financial situation that we sadly must accept.
In order to presumably waive any fee owed to Bournemouth in order to tie down Grabban for at least a season, we agreed to a deal that ultimately only benefited one party. In the likelihood that Grabban turned out to be a success in the early part of the season, Bournemouth knew that they’d be able to cash in on the player should they wish to do so - a well-laid plan that has up to now turned out for the best for the south coast club.
There is a chance that Grabban will remain at Sunderland, of course, but with rumours this weekend linking the forward with a move to high-fliers Aston Villa, it would be foolish of me to suggest that the player and Bournemouth would turn their noses up at any potential offer coming their way from a club better positioned than we are.
What can Chris Coleman actually do about it, then? Well, he has to start by being diligent.
We know that we don’t have a great deal of money to play around with, and we know that our options in attack not named Lewis Grabban aren’t particularly great.
What we do know about Coleman though is that his teams always have a physical presence up top, and it’s safe to say that whilst he he has a great worth to our side, Grabban is not that type of forward.
If we are going to persist with the 5-4-1 system which served us so well against Wolves at the weekend, we may need to try and shop around for a centre forward that can do the job that Coleman requires of his front-man.
In an ideal situation we’d have that player compliment Grabban in our side, but the reality of the situation is that it may be an either-or scenario.
There’s a reason that the likes of Gary Madine and Sam Vokes have been linked to the club in recent days - adding a big, bustling centre forward to our ranks that can beef up our attack seems almost essential if we are going to operate within a system that relies upon crosses into the box and good hold-up play.
The question really is more about whether or not we’ll have something to spend in January. We know that any purchases will be made from funds attained from player sales, and with it looking likely that Lamine Kone and perhaps even Didier Ndong will move on in the coming weeks I suppose that we can expect that at some point during the window there will be some money to spend - just, perhaps, not a lot of it.
I suppose that my advice to my fellow Sunderland supporters is to just have faith in Coleman’s ability to successfully attain the players that he needs. Grabban leaving would be a huge blow but it’s certainly not the end of the world. Without his goals we’d undoubtedly be worse off for it but I have full faith in the manager’s ability and he’ll be fully aware of what could be about to happen to his forward line once January begins.
Even if Grabban doesn’t leave, we are going to have to endure an entire month of speculation which will undoubtedly unsettle the player, and with a list of problems as long as the River Wear to deal with it’ll be the one issue right near the top of Chris Coleman’s list that he wants to resolve quickly.