When the four teams directly around you in the relegation mire are frantically changing manager, you need no reminder that the heat is on and for David Moyes he faces a month which could save him from being plunged into the managerial abyss. Failed spells at Manchester United and Real Sociedad means the Scot's reputation can only be enhanced by turning around Sunderland's fortunes during the second half of the campaign.
The build-up to the window began in torrid fashion; with chief executive Martin Bain's warning that the club had limited funds available in January. Moyes responded by claiming he would have thought twice about taking the job at the Stadium of Light had he been made aware of such a financial plight. In short, utter turmoil in engulfing the north-east.
What they need
Only Hull City and Middlesbrough have found the net on fewer occasions than Sunderland, and with Jermain Defoe responsible for over 50% of them, Moyes badly needs some attacking support for the former England striker. Though the 53-year-old's incompetence could be blamed for the club's problems, they have been struck down with several season-ending injuries.
Paddy McNair and Duncan Watmore, two of the sparks from this term, will not play again until next season, while Jordan Pickford is out until at least the end of February with an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury. A replacement for any of the trio would be a bonus, but the real problems lie in the final third.
Who could join?
Leonardo Ulloa, the third highest scorer of Leicester City's title winning season, has emerged as a candidate to lead the line for Moyes, according to The Sun. Meanwhile, fresh from two goals in as many games Peter Crouch has also been linked with a move to Sunderland to rekindle his partnership with Defoe [The Sun].
Turkish media have claimed that Dick Advocaat is ready to do his former club a favour by loaning them striker Emmanuel Emenike and full-back Gregory van der Wiel. Other players doing the rounds include Bournemouth's Tyrone Mings [The Daily Telegraph] and Nabil Bahoui of Hamburg [Swedish reports].
Who could leave?
To suggest that Defoe's future at Sunderland is the difference between the club staying up or dropping back to the second tier for the first time since the 2006-07 season is anything short of an understatement would be a laughable. Harry Kane was the only English player to outscore Defoe in the Premier League in 2016, and the 34-year-old begun 2017 with a double to hold Liverpool to once again highlight his importance.
Yet he will be at the centre of a transfer saga which could run until the final hours of the window. West Ham have already had one £6m offer rejected but are prepared to return with a follow-up bid for their former youth product [according to Sky Sports]. The Hammers could also sign defender Lamine Kone if they trigger his £18m release clause [The Express].
What the manager has said
"It's difficult. Even if we do know (which players we want), attracting the type of players that we need and saying 'come on we need you' won't be that easy, so we'll have to see what we can do," Moyes said, according to The Daily Telegraph. "We've always said that if we could, we would but everybody knows that we've got restraints.
"I think with what we've got, everybody would say of course Sunderland need help. So let's hope something happens and we're able to do that. Ellis will speak with me and I'll speak with Ellis and we'll get together I've got no doubt. I think the supporters know the situation; the club have made it clear. Ellis is saying let's see what's out there and let's see what happens and maybe we can try and do something."