Even though Sam ‘un-relegatable’ Allardyce has taken charge and did initially spark some improvement in Sunderland’s performances, they still look a team that could easily end the season on their way down to the Championship.
There’s nowhere near enough creativity and goals, and their defence has been as much use as a chocolate teapot on many occasions so far this campaign.
Allardyce will naturally view the upcoming January transfer window as a chance to bring some players in who can steady the ship and bring some much-needed quality to the Black Cats ranks, but arguably a more important decision that he has to make is who to get rid of?
Sunderland do not have a small squad, and in it are some players who patently are not Premier League quality. Who he decides to axe, freeing up necessary space on the wage bill, could be vital to the north-east club’s chances of survival.
Here are our FIVE recommendations as to who should be exiting the Stadium of Light next month…
Despite his signing being greeted with much fanfare from the Sunderland faithful last year, the simple truth is that Buckley has not really been able to cut it in the Premier League.
He didn’t set the world alight last year, and with new midfield options having arrived in the summer, Buckley has found himself sent out to Leeds on loan until early January – when he does return, his stay up in the north east may only be a temporary one.
The defender has found himself not so much on the edge of the map as off the charts altogether in the north east, where he has looked extremely ill suited and under prepared for the English game.
A season on loan at Reims last year seemed not to increase his favour in the eyes of the then-manager Dick Advocaat, and it’s hard to believe that no-nonsense Allardyce will view him with much more favour. He’s better than Santiago Vergini, but Sunderland will need to do better still if they wish to avoid the drop.
Unfortunately it looks like Brown has passed his best. When you’re passed over consistently in favour of Younes Kaboul, it’s not a good sign.
An excellent defender at Manchester United for many years, and also a man who should arguably have played a fair few more times for England, Brown is now clearly entering the twilight of his career, and is unfortunately not doing so with great dignity.
A succession of injuries and a lack of fitness have kept him from making many appearances for the Black Caps this term, and Allardyce will surely be thinking long and hard about whether the time is right to jettison Brown in January.
Rodwell’s career has pretty much stalled since he took the Premier League by storm as a teenage at Everton, which seems like a lifetime ago.
Although still only 24, it feels like Rodwell has been around for ages – but never quite managed to take that next step and realise his undoubted potential.
As part of a midfield that consistently gets overrun and does not offer enough protection for the defence, Rodwell could well see himself pushed out of the door in order to make way for a midfielder who offers more defensive protection.
A shadow of the player who was close to being in contention for an England place a few years ago, Graham has completely lost his scoring touch since arriving in the north east after several prolific years with Swansea and before that, with Middlesbrough.
In his heyday Graham was a brilliant leader of the line who would never give defenders a moments peace, and was also adept at sticking the ball in the back of the net – nowadays he struggles to get a game and for the sake of his own game, so clearly lacking in confidence, must look elsewhere to get back into the scoring habit.