The lads and lasses who support AK over in the Netherlands won’t be able to believe it. For them, Jozy Altidore scored goals for fun. Followers of the United States national team generally think he’s the real deal. But back in Blighty, in Hull and Sunderland, we all wonder about the lack of goals (a problem if you are a striker) and some, Pete Sixsmith among them, suggest Rugby League might have been a better option as the young Jozy contemplated his sporting career. For all that, Jozy Altidore deserves to be remembered as a player who gave his all and was, by all accounts, a great guy. Good luck, Jozy, but let Sixer take up the story …
Farewell to Jozy
Jozy Altidore, Jozy Altidore,
When you kicked that ball
You couldn’t hit a barn door
I accept that my attempt at a pastiche based on the poetry of Sir John Betjeman is more like William McGonnigle or EJ Thribb but however bad it is, it isn’t as bad as the career that our soon to be ex striker has enjoyed in the United Kingdom.
If ever a player was totally unsuited to the Premier League, it was Jozy. He came from the Netherlands at the same time as Wilfried Bony and is exiting his club at the same time too. However, there is a considerable gap (or should it be gulf) between what the two achieved,
He’d had a bad time at Hull City a few years ago, scoring once in the 28 games that he played as Phil Brown’s side toppled into the Championship. He confronted Alan Hutton when we played at the KC Stadium in April, butted him and was sent off, so we didn’t really have a positive image of him.
Off he went to AZ67 Alkmaar, deep in the Dutch cheese fields, where he found the form that had prompted Villareal to shell out a lot of money for him four years previously. Fifteen in the first season, followed by 23 in the second and a regular place in the USA national side, suggested that he had put the Hull experience behind him, and he pitched up at Sunderland as part of the Di Canio and Di Fanti revolution.
Unfortunately, he was awful when he arrived, continued to be awful and was awful as he left for MLS and, presumably Toronto. Unlike that large jam donut mentioned by JM Whistler, his arrival was not eagerly anticipated and his departure will not have us craving for more.
He is yet another expensive failure in our vain attempts to fashion a team with a deadly goalscorer. Over the last few years we have had to suffer Jon Stead, Andy Gray, Rada Prica, Nacho Scocco, Danny Graham and David Healey, who barely summoned up half a dozen goals between them.
But Jozy was probably the biggest flop of all because he came with what looked like a decent pedigree. USA international, regular scorer in the Eredivisie, a player on a mission and that was to conquer England and outshine Wilfried Bony.
He did neither. A single league goal in the 60+ appearances he made for us made him less prolific than Mick Henderson, Tony Cullen, Paul Atkinson and Colin Waldron and the exit sign flashed and beckoned after that horrendous miss against West Ham a few weeks ago.
Despite his inability to find the net – or even the crossbar or the post, let alone the keeper, – the crowd never turned on him. In fact, most of the support desperately wanted him to succeed and realised that his confidence was growing more fragile after every scoreless appearance.
He tried hard and showed some decent touches. He had a storming game in the 3-0 demolition of Newcastle last February, playing a major part in setting up Jack Colback’s clincher. But he missed a great chance in that game and never recovered from it. Perhaps if he had scored then, he would be would be hitting the net regularly for Sunderland.
I wish him well as he returns to a league where he will feel more at home and will be up against slower defenders who may just allow him to show off his pace and strength.
In the future, long after Monsieur Salut and I have shuffled off this mortal coil, young boys will sit around the fire and ask their bewhiskered grandfathers to tell them tales of Jozy Altidore and how he scooped the ball over the top or fell down or ran into defenders. And no doubt they will say: “But he can’t be any worse than this shower of s**** that we have now, Granddad.”
And the old man will shake his head and give a wry chuckle – because he knows that he was.