To me Sunderland's situation is obvious: we need to sign players and a host of them, for actual money - and quickly. Otherwise it's back-to-back relegations and au reviour to the Championship.
From back to front this squad needs serious investment. Both Robbin Ruiter and Jason Steele have done little to ignite any confidence in their abilities, and the amount of goals we’ve leaked this season because of goalkeeping errors is absolutely shameful.
The big Dutchman should have saved at least two of Birmingham’s goals last night. Martin Bain was reportedly in attendance at St. Andrews - the elusive Scot must make signing a competent and consistent goalkeeper a priority.
It has been suggested recently that Andy Lonergan is set to be brought to the club by Coleman, and it wouldn’t be particularly surprising. We need a calming influence between the sticks, and unfortunately neither of our current senior stoppers offer than.
Lamine Kone came back into the side last night and was incredibly disappointing. Obviously you’d expect the big defender to be rusty after a lengthy injury layoff; however, Birmingham aren’t exactly a top quality side – where is the player Sam Allardyce signed?
Jake Clarke-Salter also looks to be struggling in the pressure cooker that is Sunderland’s disappointing seaon thus far. I accept it’s hard for a young, inexperienced lad to come in and change our fortunes, but the lad really does seem to be finding it difficult to adjust to life in the Championship, and that’s a worry.
Will Coleman have the resources to bolster his struggling defence? Likely not. However, relying on John O’Shea game after game just isn’t a viable option considering the bloke’s age and injury record - we really should have invested in another commanding centre-back by now.
Further up the pitch, and other than heading in the winning goal against Nottingham Forrest on New Year’s Eve, Aiden McGeady’s form has been non-existent since Simon Grayson’s departure. Sunderland lack creativity in midfield, another area which needs addressing - especially considering how ineffectual McManaman has been, too.
Factor into the equation that it looked like Didier Ndong will be off by the end of the day, and it’s clear to see we need midfield reinforcements. Ndong hasn’t exactly impressed playing in a lower league this season, and whoever replaces him will need to step up and provide the drive, athleticism, and quality we so desperately lack.
That being said, we do have some half-decent young players, mind. Midfielders Ethan Robson, George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch have all showed desire and glimpses of quality this season though again it’s unfair to place such heavy expectations on inexperienced shoulders. Lee Cattermole should have really been a standout performer for us this season, but he too has been largely poor this campaign.
Browning, for me, has been acceptable given the situation he’s been thrown into, and Joel Asoro and Josh Maja are eager to impress and bring much needed energy to the side. But, the youngsters alone aren’t enough – they’re too inexperienced and lack Championship guile, that much was obvious against Birmingham.
Despite Coleman’s obvious managerial qualities, botched recruiting by past regimes alongside injuries mean the Welshman’s hands are tied. What can he realistically do with a squad so thin and devoid of quality?
The answer? Not a lot, in my opinion.
Coleman will struggle to keep this Sunderland team in the Championship without solid investment, but will Ellis Short allow his hatchet man Martin Bain to release the purse strings? No chance.
A free transfer for a 27-year-old Kazenga LuaLua will be our marquee singing this window, and as much as I’m willing to give the lad a chance at proving his worth - isn’t his signing a sad indictment of how far we’ve fallen in such a short space of time?
Barring a miracle today, things aren’t looking great for our beloved club.