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Asoro needs to earn his stripes & our style of football was naff; Fallout from Hartlepool win

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Whilst we managed to beat Conference side Hartlepool United yesterday evening at Victoria Park, we made tough work of it - here are the main talking points coming out of the game, including why Joel Asoro needs to leave the club on loan and earn his stripes elsewhere.

Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town: EFL Cup Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Long ball football?!

I’m not entirely sure what our game plan going into yesterday’s match with Hartlepool actually was but the football was not pretty at all.

Much of our game centred on getting rid of the ball from out of our defence quickly, but James Vaughan and Josh Maja up front struggled in the air against Hartlepool’s giant defenders and despite their best efforts it was never going to be easy for them to make something of the poor service that they were afforded.

It’s a little worrying that we’re just over two weeks from the season starting and we’re clearly unsure of what sort of style we’ll be playing in the Championship. Here’s hoping that, at Bradford this Saturday, we have more about us and aim to keep the ball down on the floor.


Khazri, Lens and Ndong

The reason that our style of play yesterday evening seemed so unclear was probably because our three most energetic players were on the bench and didn’t enter the pitch until later on in the second half.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Wahbi Khazri and Didier Ndong are incredibly mobile and would instantly be two of the finest players in the second tier, should they opt to stick around. Similarly, Jeremain Lens is a born goalscorer and would contribute regularly at that level with ease, such are his capabilities.

It would boost our chances of immediate promotion considerably if they were to stay and take on the Championship with us, and I fear that replacing any of them adequately would be almost impossible at this stage.


We lack balance

We may have a number of problems with regards to our disjointed squad but it’s not actually that difficult an issue to resolve, provided we target the right kind of players to re-balance our side.

Duncan Watmore and Aiden McGeady playing together regularly seems a long way down the road but once they’re both fit and playing our attack will look far more balanced than it does currently.

Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town: EFL Cup Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Likewise, the returns to full fitness of Bryan Oviedo and Brendan Galloway will aid us considerably - nobody needs to see Adam Matthews or Papy Djilobodji attempting to play at left back in a Sunderland shirt again.


Asoro needs experience

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing Joel Asoro off - quite the opposite - but it’s clear to me that the lad needs to leave in order to gain vital first-team experience at a club further down the food chain.

Hartlepool are a physical side and despite trying his best, Asoro struggled for the most part against their tough-tackling defenders.

He’d seriously benefit from some regular football up against the sort of players he came across yesterday evening and if he’s going to make it at the top level, earning his stripes at a club lower down the leagues is going to be key to whether or not he succeeds.