Sunderland’s problems revealed: This is where the Black Cats are going wrong

Sam Allardyce made it his No.1 prioirity to sign him on a permanent basis before quitting for England and Moyes too wanted to bring him back to Wearside.

But with the Russians holding out for a big transfer fee despite M’Vila’s contract expiring in the New Year, Sunderland failed to broker a deal and are paying the price on the pitch with his absence leaving a significant void.

Back in 2010, Steve Bruce, the last manager to lead the Black Cats to a top-half finish, boasted, with some justification, he had the best set of forwards in the club’s recent history.

Darren Bent, Asomoah Gyan, Frazier Campbell and Danny Welbeck offered him a vast array of attacking options but within 12 months, they were just a Mackem memory.

Bent and Gyan had been reluctantly sold, Campbell was injured and Welbeck had returned to Manchester United despite Bruce’s bid to prolong his stay.

Another loanee was drafted in, a certain Nicklas Bendtner and though he was not an overwhelming success in 2011-12, his eight goals made him Sunderland’s top scorer.

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