David Moyes believes this season’s recruitment is the primary reason why they have failed to pull off yet another great escape.
The Black Cats have made remarkable recoveries in the closing stages of the past four seasons, but have flat lined at the end of this campaign and their relegation was officially confirmed with four games left to play.
Moyes was left frustrated by the amount of funding made available after his arrival in the summer, and then by a failure to land key targets in January.
Moyes has signed 13 players since his arrival on Wearside but has noted that his squad in one of the most dependent on free transfers and loans in the Premier League’s history.
That, for the Black Cats boss, is the primary difference between this season’s relegation and previous late season success.
He said: “If you look at what we have been able to bring in – there has been less this year, and that has obviously affected it.”
Sunderland’s January business at the start of 2016 was widely credited as having a key part in their revival, Lamine Kone, Wahbi Khazri and Jan Kirchhoff all inspirational in the second half of the season.
Moyes warned this year that the deals he would be able to complete would not have the same impact and that has been proven correct.
The Black Cats tried hard to cover for the loss of Victor Anichebe to injury by signing Leonardo Ulloa, but the then in peril Foxes insisted that they would not sell to a relegation rival.
Moyes said the failure to land a new striker was ‘not for the want of trying’.
Former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov, out of contract since leaving Greek giants PAOK last summer, revealed he held talks and wanted a Wearside switch, but Moyes said a deal had not been possible financially at the time.
Despite the lack of strengthening in January, the primary frustration for the Sunderland boss was last summer’s problems in the market.
Just three players had been signed when the season began at Manchester City.
He said: “You probably need to look back to the start of the season to see where we needed to make the recruitment better, but time was so short and that was where the difficulty was.”