When news filtered through yesterday evening that Birmingham City had managed to defeat Reading on their own patch - thus lifting the Blues off the bottom of the Championship and, in turn, pushing us down in their place - an audible groan emanated from the despairing Sunderland supporters who couldn’t bare to look on without peering through the gaps in their fingers.
Despite some promising displays recently, some disappointing results over the festive period coupled with the upturn in form of the majority of our relegation rivals has seen us plummet back to the foot of the table.
Monday’s lethargic defeat at the hands of fellow strugglers Barnsley - who prior to the game had not won any of their previous eleven games - not only showed how much Chris Coleman’s current squad lacks quality, but also showed how paper-thin it is.
Injuries and suspensions may not have totally hampered our campaign, but they haven’t made things any easier for the Sunderland manager.
Talk of back-to-back relegations has been kept relatively low-key up until this point in the season, however four wins in twenty-six is the kind of poor form that keeps this chatter going.
In order to remain in the Championship, Coleman needs to have assurance from the Sunderland owner that he will have the means to improve the squad to the level needed in order to save us.
The start of the week marked the official opening of the transfer window - and it could well be a make or break month for the club. If we don’t add to the threadbare squad before the end of January then it will be difficult to imagine that our current league position will improve much, if at all.
The big issue won’t be whether Ellis Short can provide, it’s a case of will he provide?
It won’t take a fortune to get us moving in the right direction, but it will take some time to clean out the players who are stealing a living from the club - some, like Jack Rodwell, are earning sixty thousand pounds a week yet are contributing nothing to our fight against the drop, though quite how you trick someone into taking him off our hands seems almost impossible to comprehend.
It’s hard to see what Short’s aims are for Sunderland.
We know that he wants to eventually sell up, yet the longer he goes without properly investing, the more the struggles will continue and therefore the less attractive the club becomes; our value feels like it’s dropping on a near daily basis at the moment.
It was made clear over the summer just how little the Sunderland chairman was prepared to invest in the first team squad when we spent a little over £1 million on ten new players.
This made it blatantly obvious that, despite recruiting heavily, we had perhaps just plugged some holes rather than brought in players that would be capable of placing us ahead of the others at this level.
Monday’s performance should have been enough to convince even the most optimistic of Sunderland fans that a significant changes in our playing squad are needed if we are going to pull away from the bottom of the table.
There’s no doubt about it - serious, positive change will only come about if Ellis Short throws the club a financial lifeline in one of it’s darkest hours - and the events which transpire from him failing to do so aren’t ones we particularly want to think about.