Gus Poyet seems to have learnt something about the Sunderland team since arriving on Wearside. They aren't really that good. And, despite having come from a lower league club, the Uruguayan is seemingly losing patience with the squad. With the transfer window open and survival looking a formidable feat, in recent press conferences the Head Coach stated a desire to make some changes in a squad starting to wear him out. However, after the unfruitful fortunes of a destroy and rebuild strategy last summer, the extent of January's dealings must be monitored.
There have already been many murmurs of players from the aforementioned summer influx being on their way out of the Wearside revolving door. Whilst the scarcely appearing Cabral may be set to end his misery at the club by fleeing to Genoa, another Italian club may be coming in for the struggling centre half Modibo Diakité. Both arrived to excitement and expectation but have struggled and generally disappointed fans and critics. Diakite was billed as the man here to rid the club of a slow back four but appears erroneous, despite an improved showing against Aston Villa. Cabral, on the other hand, was believed by many to be forcing Lee Cattermole out of the club.
And now that situation is likely to appear once more with Liam Bridcutt's prospective arrival. Already fans are rushing to say the scot will improve the team and make Cattermole's role a more peripheral one. This view, like that of Cabral, must be registered with caution. Catts' lapses in concentration and discipline regularly attract great amounts of criticism, but on the few occasions Sunderland have won this season he has played a key role. Particularly in the league cup quarter-final against Chelsea, the club's ex-captain gave a solid performance, showcasing the passing and defensive abilities considerably improved by a man who has appeared in each if the last 9 Premier League seasons. Conclusively, Bridcutt would be a fine addition to a midfield lacking quality but Cattermole must remain the team's anchor.
The other situation over which much ado has been made is the vast number of contracts set to finish. Most are for the departures of Craig Gardner, Carlos Cuéllar and Ji Dong-Won whilst Seb Larsson continues to split opinion. If Diakite were to leave Cuéllar would provide necessary yet unspectacular cover and would be unlikely to command any more than a nominal fee this month. Ji however would be able to fetch at least a couple of million this month unless he can get his act together. The same goes for Gardner, but Larsson is another player who has the potential to excel in games and rarely puts a foot inexplicably wrong. A new contract should be in order for the Swede, as it should be for Jack Colback. But, that situation has more complexity due to the industrious midfielder hoping to leave should relegation occur. So the choice is; take a fee now or hedge our bets of survival, risking the loss of a top player for nothing. Personally, I believe Colback's involvement would be key should survival be reached and if not, it'll just be another loss to take.
So, I believe changes should be kept to a minimum but quality should be invested in where possible. This transfer window is important but I have no doubt the current squad could secure an eighth consecutive premier league campaign if they sort their act out.