Tom Atkinson says...
Sunderland are just entirely frustrating. Doncaster was a decent performance that ended with three points; Fleetwood was of a similar ilk, but the Lads left two points on the table.
The main issue this side has is the lack of a true goalscorer. Against Fleetwood we created several gilt-edged opportunities, yet the forwards just couldn’t deliver.
Sunderland are crying out for a Maja-esque striker who “just scores goals”. Someone whose movement gets them the time and space required to score. Maja was equally adept with his hold up play, to be fair to him; however, Sunderland’s tactical approach seems to simply be working the ball wide before getting it into the box - as such we need a forward capable of getting onto the ball in dangerous areas.
I think we also need another attacking midfielder capable of taking on the opposition and forcing them into making mistakes. Gooch and Maguire are good options, but we need more. Watmore stretches legs with his direct running, but often lacks the clinical nature required. Sunderland need a tricky attacking midfielder capable of producing the goods.
Our central midfield options are decent, to be fair, though a new right back would be a good acquisition. In all, Sunderland have shown slim flickers of improvement, but we need to be more consistent.
Phil Butler says...
The game against Fleetwood was another frustrating performance from Sunderland. Many of the good aspects from the game at Doncaster remained, especially Sunderland’s work off the ball, pressing with a good intensity that made the game almost exciting to watch. However, the 2019 struggles continued for Wyke and the rest of the strikers and this is certainly Sunderland’s first priority for January.
Despite this, I’m much more optimistic looking forward than I was after the game on Boxing Day. This is mainly because Parkinson clearly now has a plan. It may not be pretty and you might not agree it’s going to be successful, but it’s something to work on and gives Sunderland some key areas to strengthen in January.
As I’ve just mentioned, the main area for improvement is up front, where even if Wyke was in red-hot form he would be the only striker in the “Phil Parkinson mould”. The fact that Wyke is seemingly in the freezer alongside Will Grigg only makes the acquisition of this striker more important, and someone north of six foot tall who scores goals and wins headers would be a dream... so I can’t wait to sign a 5ft 6 teenager who’s never played senior football before.
The second position in Sunderland’s starting line up that needs addressing is the centre of midfield, and this is after we presume Ethan Robson comes in to replace the inevitably departing Dylan McGeouch. Now this position will probably be the hardest to fill, since we’re essentially looking for an all-round midfield player. They need to be physical and good enough in the tackle to play as one of the two holding midfielders, but they also need to set themselves apart from Dobson and Power by having the energy and willingness to contribute to Sunderland’s attacking play, hopefully chipping in with a few goals along the way.
This is alot to ask but I’d also mention that if all of these boxes can’t be ticked, more importance should be given to the attacking qualities of this midfielder, since we have 4 players capable of playing the holding role.
Once McGeady departs we’re looking light on numbers in attacking midfield.
Overall, I’m more confident than this time last week but that could all change if Sunderland don’t make at least two good additions to their starting line up by the end of January.