When it comes to Sunderland fans airing their hopes for the upcoming transfer window, I can’t help but feel that deep down it’s the same kind of sham enthusiasm displayed by North Koreans when demonstrating their undying love for Big Kim.
That might sound a bit harsh, but deep down, many of us know that the club are up the creek without anything that even resembles a paddle - as Martin Bain admitted back in September:
The income drop after relegation, from £100million to around £40million, has to be considered and so does the wage bill, which is still significant for this level even though we have taken steps to reduce it.
We’ve brought in £30million for Jordan Pickford, but that is needed for the running of the club. Yes, that money comes in, but then you have to consider the money that went out on legacy transfer payments at the start of the summer.
Added to that we lose some of it when you consider Ricky Alvarez. A player we don’t have, a mistake from the past.
I think the phrase ‘without a pot to piss in’ has never been more apt - as confirmed by the paltry outlay this past summer.
At the end of last season reports were published by the club demonstrating the gigantic battle we face in order to rectify our ailing accounts. The two biggest issues clear for all to see was the exorbitant level of debt - both internal and external - and also the amount of money being spent on wages.
The picture painted was nothing short of bleak. Money owed left, right, and centre whilst the club continues to spend over three quarters of what little it generates on players who simply haven’t delivered, unable to shift those still consuming valuable resources without offering anything in return... Jack Rodwell, we’re looking at you.
The fact that the majority of the money made from the Jordan Pickford sale was spent on old transfer payments for a series of players who instigated our subsequent demise is nothing short of shameful, and signifies a clear failure with regard to transfer policy.
So will we have anything to spend in the coming month in order to help Chris Coleman transform our woes? Perhaps, but one would imagine that raising any sort of significant sum would be difficult to do - especially after reading back over those financial reports.
Whether additional funds come from sales, or via the unlikely chance that Short dips his hand into his already scorched pocket remains to be seen, but one thing that looks to be certain is that we won’t have the levels of cash required in order to solve this problem quickly.
Interestingly though, the club have hired Neale McDermott recently in what appears to be another attempt at forging some kind of meaningful transfer policy. And when you consider McDermott’s recent scouting roles, it would appear the club are looking to younger, hungrier players that may have perhaps escaped the attention of other ‘large’ clubs. Players that won’t necessarily cost a fortune.
The club must already be fully aware of the fact the fact that this summer could potentially see another large turnover in personnel. Marc Wilson, Mika, Darron Gibson, John O’Shea, and Billy Jones all have contracts expiring at the season’s end whilst this term’s loan acquisitions will also depart leaving nine vacancies that will need to be filled. Therefore, bringing at least a handful of good players in the coming month is a must, otherwise we will be left with another mammoth rebuilding task at the end of this campaign - hopefully as a Championship side.
In spite of the fact that we are aware of the club’s awful financial situation, we must be hopeful that Ellis Short and Martin Bain somehow manufacture funds in order to help redevelop a side that has struggled so far this season - a notion that really is difficult to put faith in.
We tried the cheap approach in the summer, and it just didn’t work. In turn, we need to invest any available money wisely - which sounds obvious, but is an approach that hasn’t been adopted whatsoever in recent years.
This January is going to be a struggle, yet we must have faith that Chris Coleman, his recent history with Wales, and his charismatic desire for success has somehow swayed the powers at be to find some funding from somewhere.
This might seem a bit doom and gloom, but Coleman believes in this club, and so do we - now we need to see the club’s hierarchy make positive moves to signal a change in fortune. January’s comings and goings will likely be what enables Coleman to cease the immediate misery, and plot a course for a more successful future. To regurgitate a phrase that seems to be synonymous with our club in recent times: it very much feels like a case of do or die.