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OPINION: Sunderland set to bolster forward line with signing of local lad - but is he any good?

We collared journalist and life-long Bradford supporter Mark Douglas to give us his thoughts on what Charlie Wyke - who should be a Sunderland player by the end of today - can bring to our club this season.

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RR: So.... Charlie Wyke. Sunderland have been chasing him for what seems like ages now. Do you think he’ll be worth the wait?

MD: I understand that there may be a few Sunderland fans who look at his CV and aren’t convinced, but for a club whose aim has to be to blow away League One, he’s an excellent buy in a deal that is probably win-win for both clubs.

Wyke’s strong, surprisingly skillful, ambitious, hard working and will benefit if Sunderland get the service to him. He’s no Jermaine Defoe but for what Sunderland need right now, it’s a good signing.

RR: What sort of striker is he?

MD: It goes without saying that he is an aerial threat. He’s tall and brave and will cause problems for opposition defences in League One.

But don’t underestimate how good he is with the ball at his feet. He has a sure touch and some of the goals he scored at City illustrated that.

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RR: His scoring record in League One is decent - not spectacular, but very good nonetheless. Do you think he can develop further and improve now he’s a Sunderland player?

MD: I think he will have to.

City are a big club in the lower divisions but Sunderland is a big club full stop, so expectation will intensify and he will not be permitted the sort of drop in form that we saw from him after Christmas last year.

Wyke’s scoring record took a hit for playing in a Bradford side that was utterly dreadful from Christmas last year, and got worse when Simon Grayson (remember him?!) took over. But when we were in good form and he was fit, he was averaging a lot of goals in League One.

RR: How do you get the best out of Charlie Wyke?

MD: He looked most dangerous for Bradford when we had good wingers working the channels, which is a tried and tested formula for success in League One. Mark Marshall, who left to join Charlton, was superb alongside him and he played well in tandem with Billy Clarke, a skillful, intelligent number ten.

Looking at Sunderland’s squad, they have those sort of players.

Northampton Town v Bradford City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

RR: What sort of reaction has the news of his departure got amongst the Bradford supporters?

MD: I think we were resigned to losing him because of his contractual situation.

If it had gone down to six months remaining, we could have been looking at losing him with no profit banked and financially we couldn’t afford that.

It’s a funny time at City because we have signed fifteen players this summer, appointed a 31-year-old rookie manager who has never coached full-time before and have the spectre of an owner (Edin Rahic) who is keen to get involved in football matters.

Fans were very upset about the way things were going and then the recruitment started and it looks like a half decent squad on paper.

But losing Wyke means we have very little goal threat.

It’s best that it’s resolved now so we can try and sign a replacement. That said, I don’t think many would begrudge him the move really. It’s a good step up at a club in the North East and we did what Sunderland have done to us to Carlisle.

Northampton Town v Bradford City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

RR: What would you say his main strengths are?

MD: Aerially he’s excellent. That’s his biggest asset.

RR: And his weaknesses - what are those?

MD: He tended to go missing in big games: he was a huge disappointment in the play-off final against Milwall in 2017 after going on a real hot streak before then. Millwall’s defenders made him look very ordinary and after Christmas last season he was totally anonymous (but so was every other Bradford player as our season nose-dived).

He has plenty of unfulfilled potential still.

RR: For any Sunderland fan that is sceptical about this piece of business, what would you say to them?

MD: I don’t think you should be.

It’s a good deal for Sunderland, it’s a decent profit for Bradford and you have a good League One striker with the ability to improve. If the aim is instant promotion, you need players like Wyke - who is one of the best strikers in the division.

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