Sunderland fans unsure on Lescott in Moyes' make-or-break transfer window

Even by his own standards of trademark negativity, Sunderland manager David Moyes has been demoralisingly downbeat in his assessment of what supporters might expect from the transfer window.

His first signing -- Joleon Lescott, a 34-year-old defender who last saw first team action more than three months ago -- does little to suggest the level of team strengthening needed to spur a rise from the foot of the Premier League.

Lescott, who can play in central defence or at left-back, joins Sunderland on a deal until the end of the season. He became a free agent in November when his contract with Greek side AEK Athens was terminated by mutual consent.

Moyes must have other cards to play before the window closes on Jan. 31 because the former England international's arrival is unlikely to revive confidence on Wearside. Meanwhile, Patrick van Aanholt has been linked with a £12 million move to Sunderland's relegation rivals Crystal Palace.

In his gloomy appraisal of Sunderland's prospects of making big signings, Moyes admitted funds were limited "with a capital L" and said: "I think to suggest that the players we'll be bringing in will make a big difference wouldn't be correct."

Former Sunderland midfielder Don Hutchison claimed Moyes' pessimism had him tearing his hair out.

"We all like honesty," he wrote, "but you can go too far the other way sometimes. It was so negative and if I was the Sunderland owner I'd be asking questions of my manager if he was saying those sort of things in public."

The Sunderland manager has also dismissed speculation about other supposed targets, insisting he is not pursuing any of the four or five players with whom the club had been linked.

So what of the player he has managed to recruit? Moyes knows Lescott well from when he managed Everton and may see such a short-term signing as risk-free. And it should not be forgotten the player was once valued at £22m, his reported fee on leaving Goodison, where Moyes was still manager, for Manchester City in 2009.

But when released by City towards the end of his five-year contract, it was on a Bosman free that saw him move to West Bromwich Albion.

His stay at the Hawthorns was much shorter, just 15 months, but Lescott is fondly remembered for winning a 2014-15 player of the season award.

"Lescott was superb for us. A Rolls-Royce of a defender," said Andy Caulton, an Albion supporter. "Many Baggies questioned Tony Pulis' logic or sanity in selling him to Aston Villa, of all teams."

Villa fans did not warm to Lescott and he moved after an unhappy spell there to AEK Athens in August last year. But after only four games -- his last a reportedly poor display in a 3-0 defeat at Olympiakos -- he suffered a knee injury during cycle training.

Moyes is unlikely to raise a rare smile at the gentle mockery aroused in some football circles -- and not-so-gentle derision from Newcastle United fans -- by his first dealings of the January window.

It increases pressure on him to hang on to his remaining marketable assets -- Fabio Borini, Jordan Pickford, Lamine Kone, Wahbi Khazri and Didier Ndong -- unless he can genuinely bring in players of equal or greater ability.

But his best hope for now is that Lescott seizes the lifeline he has been offered and proves himself a player of as much enduring Premier League quality as Jermain Defoe, who joined Sunderland from FC Toronto two years ago this month, aged 32.