After just two top-flight games in charge of Sunderland, David Moyes has already declared that the Black Cats should expect yet another relegation scrap this term.
Fourteenth place is the highest finish the Wearside outfit have celebrated in the last four seasons and the club are already mired in the relegation places after losing their opening two with their new boss.
After slipping to the latest defeat, against north-east rivals Middlesbrough, Moyes suggested the fans prepare themselves for another basement battle.
“It’s been the same for the last few years, I think it will be again. You can’t argue with the facts. People are hoping for it to dramatically change, but it can’t,” he said.
That’s a particularly depressing assessment for a head coach to make so early in the season and it could be a long and painful campaign for Moyes if he’s already resigned himself to such a battle.
However, the Scot did insist he wants to continue strengthening his new squad, despite already making five signings this summer.
Here are three areas that the former Manchester United man should be pinpointing in the remaining weeks of the transfer window:
Patrick van Aanholt continues to be a bright spot at the Stadium of Light. He scored his sixth league goal for the side in the loss to Boro and will be a regular for Moyes when fit.
It’s when he suffers an injury or picks up a suspension that the problem comes, with no other natural left-sided full-back among the current crop.
Sunderland are also short of bodies in the middle of the park. The squad has four senior centre midfielders on the books and three of them – Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff and Sebastian Larsson – are injured.
Those knocks are the reason that two defenders – John O’Shea and Paddy McNair – have been deployed further forward than they are used to in the opening two weeks.
Once again a lack of natural personnel is the problem. Only Jermain Defoe can be considered an out-and-out front man among the Sunderland roster.
Fabio Borini could be deployed to lead the line, but that would be considered a desperate measure with the Italian more used to playing off of a number 9.
Unless Moyes wants to go the entire season worrying every time the former Spurs star goes in to a challenge, a backup option should be desperately sought.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.