When Chris Coleman watched back Sunderland’s 2-2 draw against Millwall on Saturday, a result which means they have broken an English football record after going 20 home games without a win, it would have become brutally clear just how big a task he has on his hands.
And there is one problem in particular Coleman must solve as quickly as possible. Robbin Ruiter once again failed to cover himself in glory as he let two saveable George Saville free-kicks drift into Sunderland’s net in the space of just a few first-half minutes at the Stadium of Light.
The eternally-flappable ‘shot-stopper’, signed on a free from FC Utrecht this summer, has been a bag of nerves whenever picked of late. But it does not help that the alternative, former Blackburn Rovers man Jason Steele (below), also looks in danger of committing crucial errors at any given moment.
Simon Grayson alternated the two throughout his short-lived tenure, with neither Ruiter nor Steele doing enough to stake a real claim for the number one jersey.
Though the early signs suggest that Coleman is at least taking decisive steps to solve the issue. According to The Sunderland Echo, the Black Cats’ new boss is hopeful of a January deal for his former Wales international shot-stopper Danny Ward.
Ward, who was handed his Wales debut by Coleman, is highly-rated at Liverpool but finds himself behind both Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius in the pecking order. His only first-team appearance in 2017/18 was the EFL Cup defeat to Leicester City so a loan move to Sunderland would make perfect sense.
And Ward, unlike the unconvincing Ruiter and under-performing Steele, has proved himself as one of the best ‘keepers at Championship level. He was between the sticks as Huddersfield Town stunned English football by storming to promotion to the top flight last season.
Ward, then, would look the perfect signing for a cash-strapped Sunderland crying out for a goalkeeper. Already, appointing Coleman appears to be reaping rewards.