The bottom of the curve; January transfer frustration rams home just how far Sunderland have fallen


If Sunderland fans were in any doubt as to how far the club has fallen in the last 12 months, then another dismal January transfer window rams it right home. 


Seemingly rejected by a host of second-rate players, the descent into the abyss continues at pace at Sunderland as another miserable January transfer window plays out. Is this simply now a club that footballers with other options are not prepared to risk their reputations and careers at?

Black Cats chief executive Martin Bain recently told a meeting of assorted supporter groups that the club was "nearing the bottom of the curve" with regards to its finances; but how much further must Sunderland fall yet in footballing terms?

The plummet continues to be sharp - notably marked by today's apparent abandonment of plans to sign Chris Martin. The Derby man clearly wasn't sure if he wanted to sign on here, but when a Championship reserve player decides he doesn't much fancy turning out for Sunderland, it would indicate something of an image problem going on. 

Some will brazen it out by claiming the club only has room for those who want to be here, but there remains a twinge of embarrassment at a string of mediocre performers deliberately choosing to reject Sunderland's approaches. When remaining on the bench or moving to the likes of Reading is perceived as a better bet, then selling the Stadium of Light to players must have become a truly thankless task. 

For a club which has been a refuge for journeymen footballers in recent years, this new trend for journeymen footballers turning down the chance to join their brethren marks something of a new low. 

The steepening of the decline was here for all to see 12 months ago; as David Moyes marked a miserable January window - with his side looking odds-on to be relegated - by signing an unfit midfielder and an injury-prone full back for a combined £7m. 

Whether anyone else wanted to come is doubtful but for a club which has traditionally had issues recruiting the right kind of player, the warning signs were already illuminated for what would come next. 

As Simon Grayson thrust himself head long into lashing out £1.25m on ten new players in the summer, it was soon clear that the only footballers Sunderland could get a hold of were those unwanted by their parent clubs for fitness or form reasons, whose owners were willing to give them away for a free or on loan. 

Sadly, even that market seems to have dried up for the Black Cats in this window. Chris Coleman is now the club's sole selling point but precious few footballers on the move in January are interested in signing on for a long-term project. A short sharp pay day or the chance to put themselves in the shop window ahead of the summer is the lure for this month - and Sunderland are barely offering either. 

And let's not kid ourselves on over the two who have arrived. Jake Clarke-Salter has been sent here to toughen himself up before vying for a place in the Chelsea squad; and Kazemba LuaLua has been given away for free by a benevolent Brighton happy to allow him the opportunity to rebuild his career. 

This Sunderland side is one which, despite a modest recent improvement, will no doubt continue to struggle week in, week out until the end of the season. There may be a few decent results, perhaps even a handful of narrow wins against equally poor opposition, but the state of the squad means there will be plenty more defeats with the odd hammering thrown in during the monthly bad day at the office. 

Come midnight on Wednesday, once the dust has settled, most of us will be appeased if Sunderland do indeed land a striker and a goalkeeper as is being suggested today. Kyle Lafferty and Andy Longergan - the best the Black Cats can do? 

And whilst Chris Coleman is clearly the right man to arrest the slide at the Stadium of Light, it seems the bottom of the curve is a way off just yet. 


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