As expected on Wearside, Sunderland have made an indifferent start to their first Championship campaign in a decade.
A mixture of challenging fixtures, drastic underperformance and another change at the helm has seen the Black Cats drift to 19th in the table, already 10 points behind league leaders Cardiff City.
— NinetyMinutesOnline (@90MinsOnline) August 25, 2017
New boss Simon Grayson has attempted to instill a touch of fight back into the club that endured a season which made the ending of the Titanic look a cheery affair last time around, with a no nonsense style of play and typical second-tier footballers in order to put that into practice.
Possibly the only stand out to the 47-year-old’s methodology was the signing of Aiden McGeady, who has already become a fan favourite with his flair, confidence and ability that Sunderland were crying out for even in the Premier League.
But with the former Preston North End manager’s strategy come issues, with one particular area in which the Wearsiders look uncomfortably short being in the striker department.
Frontmen James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban are yet to hit it off with one another on the pitch, something that was no more evident than during the Black Cats’ embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Barnsley on Saturday.
The fact that the north east side managed just one shot on target throughout the entirety of the second half, which was met with ironic cheers from the home supporters, simply highlighted the club’s current shortfalls.
Any of the Stadium of Light faithful who expected the budget pairing to be as prolific as former frontman Jermain Defoe, even a league lower, should be classed as delusional, however the former Bury man has not exactly given the red and white army much to be positive about apart from his effort levels.
It was always expected that Grayson would attempt to dip into the transfer kitty again before the closing of the window on Thursday, and now, maybe more than ever, the warning signals need to be adhered to.
For the majority of the summer Sunderland have been linked with Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack, but the likelihood of a deal always seemed shaky considering the financial noose currently tightening courtesy of Ellis Short’s grip.
But following the Villans securing West Ham United winger Robert Snodgrass on a season-long loan until the end of this term, the possibility of a swoop has risen.
Admittedly the Scottish winger is not an out-and-out replacement for the 31-year-old striker, however with the already icy relationship between the previously prolific talisman and boss Steve Bruce seemingly untenable, now may be the time for the frontman to move on.
But with Sunderland there is obviously always a catch, and that one this summer is the fact there are no funds available for Grayson to spend without offloading an already heavy squad.
The Ripon-born manager has already started to chop his way through the highly-stacked pile of dead or infested wood at the Stadium of Light this summer, moving on Jeremain Lens, Sebastian Larsson, Steven Pienaar, Will Buckley and Fabio Borini as well as many others.
But within his ranks still lie several costly and toxic parasites which continue to eat up resource, with none more so than Jack Rodwell.
Since the 26-year-old’s Â£10million transfer to the north east from Manchester City in 2014, the former England international has done very little positive to benefit the Black Cats.
Considering the once highly-thought-of midfielder only secured his first starting win last term, over two years after joining, as well as dropping down the pecking order under Grayson but still somehow claiming the highest wage in the club, it is disturbing to still see the toothless and seemingly untalented ‘professional’ still being classed as a Wearsider.
To all within the confines of the Stadium of Light it is clear to see where the Black Cats are falling short, however whether Short is prepared to delve into his pocket once again and whether another club are willing to take a huge gamble on Rodwell simply remains to be seen.