Sign a new striker, shift one on
There are just under two months of football left to run before the January transfer window opens - but with Sunderland playing sometimes twice a week, that’s an awful lot of football.
We’re in November, yet not one of Sunderland’s three centre forwards have been able to establish themselves in the team as first choice. That’s slightly unnerving, because even when we were floundering in the Championship and finding our feet in League One last season we had a dependable scorer up front - this time, however, it hasn’t been the case.
Marc McNulty has shown flashes of promise but has suffered with fitness issues halting any run of games he can get in the side, Charlie Wyke - who is injured currently - has played regularly but hasn’t looked like a real goal threat, and the less said about Will Grigg’s season so far, the better.
In that period between now and January we have to work out who our best striker is, and find a way of playing that best suits them. We know that Phil Parkinson likes Charlie Wyke and I suspect that once fit, Wyke will get his opportunity to prove his worth.
If it’s still not apparent that we have two strikers capable of scoring goals regularly by the time January rolls around, then it may be that we need to go out and sign another striker that fits the mould of what Phil Parkinson needs from the man leading the line. His teams traditionally favour a mobile, physical forward who not only scores goals but battles with defenders and helps to create chances for others.
If we identify that person then it may be that one of Wyke or Grigg are moved on in order to create the room needed to facilitate any new signing. As of right now I wouldn’t begrudge either man a move elsewhere, and if things don’t improve come January then it may perhaps be best for both the player and Sunderland AFC that we not only move one of them along, but also bring in some fresh blood.
SUGGESTIONS: Armand Gnanduillet or Jonson Clarke-Harris
Sell McGeouch, bring back Robson
I actually really like Dylan McGeouch, but for whatever reason he’s been unable to cement his spot at Sunderland since signing in the summer of 2018, and perhaps the upcoming January window represents a chance for the Scotland international to move on and find himself another club - with his most likely destination a move back to Scotland.
Aberdeen were reportedly keen in signing him in the summer, whilst it wouldn’t be completely mental to suggest that a lower-end Championship team might fancy a stab at giving the technically-gifted defensive midfielder a shot.
Ethan Robson was expected to become a firm part of Jack Ross’s plans during this campaign, but after suffering an injury in pre-season he found himself outside the first-team plans and, as such, was allowed to head off on loan to Grimsby Town.
Since arriving at Blundell Park the 22-year old has been impressive, scoring three goals from midfield in seven league games. Should he remain fit, and playing well on a regular basis, there can be no doubting that once his loan is up that Phil Parkinson will want him back at Sunderland for the second half of the season.
Robson is bigger, more athletic and younger than McGeouch and with it perhaps being time for Dylan to move on, as it’s best for his career, it could open a door for Ethan to rejoin the squad and play his part in the final run towards the end of the season.
Sign a pacy winger
Lewis Morgan’s addition to the squad last season gave us pace and trickery in wide positions, and whilst I didn’t think Morgan was consistently good enough I thought that it was a mistake not to replace him in the summer when we had the chance.
We don’t have enough players who can play out wide, and that’s something that needs to be addressed in January. The wide-men we have currently are very samey, and finding a nippy, tricky, quick winger could be a game-changer when it comes to whether or not Sunderland get promoted this season.
SUGGESTIONS: Hakeeb Adelakun or Garath McCleary
Sign another right back
Sunderland’s best right back is undoubtedly utility man Luke O’Nien, who really ought to be playing further forward - as demonstrated by the fact he’s getting in amongst the goals and adding energy to our cause higher up the pitch.
Conor McLaughlin was signed to replace Adam Matthews, yet he’s done nowhere near enough to convince supporters that he’s good enough or effective enough in a side gunning for promotion. Whilst defensively he’s okay, offensively he’s ineffective and not having someone at right back who can contribute in the final third harms us whenever O’Nien isn’t the man occupying that position.
Denver Hume is starting to establish himself on the other side of the pitch, and that’s in large part down to the fact that he’s became a useful offensive weapon out wide, whipping crosses into the box and working hard up and down the line.
Finding someone who can do that same job on the right is important. Whilst McLaughlin’s usefulness could be in games away from home and against the division’s other top sides, we need someone that can also contribute in creating chances for our forwards.