Sunderland have had a topsy-turvy season and just as things began to look up and promotion seemed on the cards, they embarked on a four-match winless streak which saw them drop points to relegation rivals Fleetwood and Coventry.
If the Black Cats miss out on promotion once again there will likely be uproar and even more calls for Stewart Donald to vacate, after fans first wanted him out back in December.
Good results led that feeling to subside, but questions of investment will likely rise, particularly after the January transfer window when Phil Parkinson had limited funds to work with and brought in just one player for a nominal fee – Josh Scowen – while four others arrived either on loan or on a free.
In fact, a closer look at Sunderland’s average starting line-up in League One this season shows the depth of the problem, and how little has been invested into the playing personnel. That, despite a £10m loan from American investors in November.
Those reasons are enough to get fans agitated, with the line-up below displaying the 11 players with the most appearances for the Black Cats in League One this season.
While this Sunderland side is basically the side that went on a run of just one defeat in 15 games after Christmas (with the exception of a change – Bailey Wright – who featured in defence for part of that run), it is still a damning indictment against Donald.
That is because, of the 11 players, only George Dobson and Charlie Wyke were brought in for fees in 2018/19 or 2019/20, despite Sunderland being without doubt the biggest team in the division, boasting excellent attendances, and therefore they should be flexing their financial muscles.
The owner’s failure to do that despite being in charge for almost two years is arguably the biggest factor in making promotion questionable this season, with the north-east outfit currently sitting outside of the relegation zone.
Elsewhere, a Sunderland icon has been active on social media with a post that fans will likely want to see…