Rowell believes the club have a lot to answer for in the transfer market.
He said: “Whatever the reasons for Sunderland’s struggles – and there have been many – the club’s recruitment record has got to be one of the major failures. Until we get the recruitment side of the business right, alongside a clear strategy, Sunderland won’t break the cycle of constant underachievement.”
At the start of this season, head coach Gus Poyet had a big clear out as he attempted to make his mark upon the Sunderland squad he had inherited from Paolo Di Canio, with 15 players leaving the club, and six arriving at the Stadium of Light - plus Anthony Reveillere, who signed on a free transfer in October.
Following that, Jermain Defoe was brought to the club in the summer, with Jozy Altidore heading out the other way in an exchange deal with Toronto FC.
It is hard to suggest that any of Poyet’s signings are not Premier League level players, with all-but one - Will Buckley - arriving from a top flight club.
However, it is the likes of Jack Rodwell and Costel Pantilimon, who both arrived from Manchester City, who are the negative side of their transfer plan. They seem to have been bought for their names and the fact they played for the Premier League champions, overlooking the fact they had played just a tiny amount of football between them across the previous two campaigns.
Sunderland are a club of a size who cannot sign the big names players, and so have to look for unearthed gems and develop them into players. That was why the signings of Buckley and Patrick van Aanholt should be praised. Both are fairly young and have resale value, but can offer years of service to the club before a potential departure.
These are the type of players Sunderland should be targeting, not overpriced and out of touch big names, and Rowell is correct to highlight the transfer policy as one of the things that really does need fixing on Wearside if the Black Cats are to return to their former heights.