I have been worrying for a while about our strike force.
Until this week, if we leave aside development squad players, Gus Poyet had four options up front: Steven Fletcher, Connor Wickham. Jozy Altidore and Danny Graham. Don’t laugh at the last name; he’s been on the bench.
Well, most of us have got our wish. Graham has gone, on loan to Wolves. As one who defended him against over-the-top criticism of his light-hearted pro-Mag banter (with a Watford FC programme, for Pete’s sake), I have to say I wish him well. Purely on playing grounds, I also hope he does not come back (and I bet he does, too).
Jozy. Scores now and then for the USA and did so a week or so ago, but finds it nigh on impossible to score in the Premier. Even the normally supportive USA fans were having a go at him after the 4-1 trouncing by the Republic of Ireland. Lille, among others, have been reported as being interested. Let him go, and – as with Graham – good luck to a decent lad.
On to Wickham. Out of contract next summer and said to be angling for a move abroad. A few months ago, we thought he was angling for a move elsewhere in the Premier. His dad tweeted that tales of him refusing a new contract were rubbish as he had not been offered one but the truth s that we simply don’t know whether he has the slightest desire to commit himself to what we all know, and can even keep straight faces while knowing it, to be the greatest football club the world has ever seen. As things stand, not someone we can hope to rely on.
And Fletch. Caught recently saying how much he’d like to play for Celtic but had the grace to add “one day”. At least his dad supports us.
But it is not an encouraging scenario. We must live in hope that Poyet and Lee Congerton have someone, preferably some two, in mind come January and that Ellis Short’s patience has not snapped beyond repair.
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Here is a taste of how I made similar points at ESPN this evening. Have your say there or here.
It is not necessary to be a Sunderland supporter to believe Stan Collymore is infinitely more likeable as a pundit than he ever was as a footballer. But it probably helps.
City fans remember Collymore for his home debut as a pay-as-you-play Leicester striker and banged in three goals against Sunderland in a thumping 5-2 victory.
[But where will Sunderland] goals and points come from at Leicester? Poyet’s options up front have been both simplified and complicated in recent days.
.. All of which leaves Poyet in a potential mess unless his currently favoured duo [Fletch and Wickham] choose to commit to Sunderland or strong replacements are lined up for the new year. Only a blinkered observer of the club would argue that being prepared for the loss of key strikers has been a strong point in recent times.
The best that can be said is that with points to be fought for as Christmas approaches, Poyet still has his three main strikers to choose from.
And if the detail of history can sometimes offer encouragement, he might take heart from two aspects of that miserable 2000 visit to Leicester’s old Filbert Street ground. Sunderland’s great strike pairing of the time, Niall Quinn and the free-scoring Kevin Phillips, grabbed the consolation goals and Sunderland went on to finish seventh top. Two additional factors cancel each other out: Collymore is lost to radio, no more available to torment the Sunderland defence, but Phillips is now Leicester’s coach with special responsibility for strikers.
Do you share my concerns or are they premature? Have your say.