A Yuletide resurgence saw Sunderland climb out of immediate danger at the end of 2012, but there are still plenty of problems than Martin O’Neill will look to address in January.
Where the team needs to strengthen
Sunderland spent plenty of money on Steven Fletcher in the summer, and the Scot has performed well for them, but you would still say they need another striker, with Campbell, Saha and Wickham so far not fancied by their manager as first team starters. A winger could be brought in to cover or rotate with Johnson and McClean, and a new centre back would also be welcome at the Stadium of Light.
Martin O’Neill could well look to raid other Premier League sides for their undervalued players as he has done in the past, and Michael Dawson could be brought in to shore up the Sunderland defence with the Spurs skipper not guaranteed starts at White Hart Lane. There have also been rumours that Sylvain Distin could be a target, but you would presume Everton would need a replacement first. Up front, Celtic’s Gary Hooper could be the top target, with the 24 year old in good form at the Scottish club. Whether he would want to leave Parkhead with Celtic still in the Champions League is another matter. A loan move for Manchester City’s John Guidetti could be another way to bolster their attack, but a permanent move for their current loan star Danny Rose has been ruled out by Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas. Another potential loan move to bring Tim Cahill back to the Premiership could be another option for O’Neill to add to his attacking options. In the midfield, Inter’s Joel Obi could be a £5 million target, with the 21 year old struggling to make an impact in Italy this season due to injury.
Frazier Campbell could be sold, with Hull reportedly interested in the striker. In terms of permanent transfer there have been rumours about Arsenal sniffing around Simon Mignolet, but it’s very hard to see that happening. Given his indifferent form, there might be a small chance that Sunderland could try and cash in on Stephane Sessegnon if they acquire enough cover in their attacking ranks. Titus Bramble may also be offloaded, with the club keen to remove centre back’s high wages from their bill.
Sunderland owner Ellis Short will know that O’Neill is looking to reshape his side with his own players, and could hand his manager around £8 million plus the money they could make from selling some deadwood for that purpose.
The January window will be central to Sunderland’s efforts to climb into mid-table this season, and you can expect at least one high profile striker to arrive at the Stadium of Light. O’Neill is looking to turn his side into contenders for the European places with a couple of well judged signings each window, and this January will probably follow that pattern.