How many times have Sunderland turned a proverbial corner in recent months?
The clean sheet and subsequent victory at The Pirelli Stadium? The gritty 0-0 draw away at runaway leaders Wolves? The year long wait for a home win finally being banished after beating Fulham? Or the smash and grab victory at Forest just after Christmas?
Each and every one of those matches had instilled belief in everyone connected with the club that things were finally looking up.
An abysmal home reverse to Reading; an inability to finish off ten man Birmingham City and horror showings away to Sheffield United and at home to Barnsley have, in some part, undone much of the good work that Chris Coleman has done in his time here. Injuries haven’t helped of course, but this wouldn’t be Sunderland if we weren’t continually shooting ourselves in the foot. The manager must be tearing his hair out.
Welcome to Sunderland Chris - it is par for the course at the Stadium of Light and, once again, will be the bumpiest of roller-coaster rides as the season rattles on towards its conclusion in May.
It goes without saying that the current transfer window is absolutely massive for Sunderland AFC. I cannot recall a more important one in terms of how right we must get our recruitment, particularly with players that walk through the doors at the Academy of Light, rather than those who we hope to ship out.
Doing both successfully would be the dream scenario.
Chris Coleman will be hoping that there are many more new faces around the training ground in the coming weeks now that Jake Clarke-Salter has signed on the dotted line, as the need for reinforcements is galling. Clarke-Salter is young, hungry, and most importantly, he wants to be here. He wants to play and prove that he can perform at this level and given the threadbare nature of our squad at the moment, he will certainly get game time.
Unlike previous winter windows - which have generally been disastrous in recent season, Big Sam’s aside - I trust Coleman to get it right, and the board must do the same. We really don’t have any other choice. Roy Keane used to mention attitude and character when it came to player recruitment; I believe that Coleman will be looking for much the same.
I have been hugely critical of Darron Gibson’s performances in recent months, but the injury he suffered on New Year’s Day couldn’t have come at a worse time. Coleman really has got the best out of the Irishman and he was rapidly becoming the first name on the team sheet.
Gibson was having a real influence on games, controlling our midfield and dictating the tempo of our play. He was ideal for the way Chris Coleman sets the side up and he looked a wholly rejuvenated footballer. Cast your mind back to the latter stages of last season; Gibson looked a different player. Losing him has been a huge blow, and it may even tempt the manager into scouring the market to find a like for like replacement.
Chris Coleman needs a helping hand from the owner and even he must realise now that the need for investment is apparent in order for the club to keep its head above water and move away from the Championship relegation zone.
When your club captain raises his own concerns in public to the media about releasing funds to back the manager in the transfer market, then you know that alarm bells certainly are ringing.
I’ve no doubt work is being done behind the scenes to ensure that the squad is strengthened in this window, and I implore the powers that be to provide the requisite funds to Chris Coleman from any sales in order to steer Sunderland AFC away from danger. We will all be watching with interest.
I’m an old romantic when it comes to the FA Cup. I’ve always loved the 3rd round draw and the first weekend of cup football where everyone can allow their minds to think of ultimate glory.
Last Saturday at the Riverside, watching us bow out at the first hurdle didn’t hit me as hard as in previous years. I abhor footballing clichés, but what going out of the cup does do is allow everyone at Sunderland AFC to fully focus on the task at hand, to ‘concentrate on the league’ with the sole aim of getting us away from another dreaded trap door.
With Coleman at the helm, players coming back from injury and with the remaining bad eggs hopefully shown the door this month, I believe we will get it right. One thing is for sure, we will all certainly have a clearer picture of where we are heading when the window slams shut on 31st January.