Sam Allardyce says he had to take the chance to overhaul Sunderland’s squad by playing a prominent role in the January sales.
Sunderland have brought four players to the Stadium of Light so far in this window, yet they have been just as active in moving players out of the club.
Players had to go out and the balancing act of getting that right is hugely difficultSam Allardyce
Defender Sebastian Coates became the latest to leave yesterday when he joined Sporting Lisbon on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a £4million permanent move next summer.
Coates follows Danny Graham, Costel Pantilimon, Charis Mavrias, Will Buckley and Liam Bridcutt in leaving Sunderland this month.
That has freed up sufficient funds to allow Allardyce to strengthen the squad, with the Sunderland boss still keen to make at least one further capture before the window closes at 11pm on Monday night.
Allardyce said: “The opportunity to manipulate the squad in this window had to be taken to its full force.
“When we got to January 1, we weren’t in the position I expected us to be – which was out the bottom three.
“I had to think ‘What do I do now?’. I had a window of opportunity which didn’t last very long.
“There’s Financial Fair Play to deal with, which makes life more difficult.
“So for new ones to come in, players had to go out and the balancing act of getting that right is hugely difficult, but it’s a calculated risk that I had to take.
“We’ve moved more than Seb out – Buckley, Bridcutt, Graham, Pantilimon, Mavrias.
“Even though some of them are only loans, under the regulations, it clears up some of the wages to bring in players that will hopefully have more effect and give us a better opportunity to achieve more consistent results, which we’ve not been able to achieve in my period of time.”
Coates only joined Sunderland in a £2m permanent switch seven months ago after spending last season at the Stadium of Light on loan from Liverpool.
But the Uruguayan international hadn’t featured in the Premier League since the turn of the year, with Allardyce prepared to part company with the 25-year-old if Sunderland received a suitable offer.
After completing the formalities of his move to Sporting, Coates said: “It is a club with a lot of history, one of the greatest in Portugal.
“I am delighted by the move.”
Coates’ departure provided the catalyst for Sunderland to revive their interest in Lamine Kone, with the Ivory Coast international becoming the second central defensive arrival at the Stadium of Light in this window.
Allardyce has clearly grown increasingly frustrated with Sunderland’s defensive shortcomings after conceding more goals than any other Premier League side.
And he says with just a slight improvement defensively, Sunderland would be out of the relegation zone and looking ‘healthier’.
“The biggest problem has been the lack of clean sheets,” he said.
“If we’d got a clean sheet last weekend, we’d have beaten Bournemouth 1-0.
“If we got a clean sheet against Liverpool, we draw 0-0.
“Where are we then? Out the bottom three.
“Our margins have been so small in terms of getting out of trouble.
“It’s not all about winning. If we’d have just drawn four, we’d be out of the bottom three and looking a lot healthier.”