Before the first play-off game last season, I wrote a piece about how I thought Lee Johnson was missing a trick by not dropping Charlie Wyke for Ross Stewart. I felt the Scot’s superior mobility was one of the main missing components in our team.
It would be unwise of me to start having a pop at our former 30 goal striker. He certainly produced the goods. That can never be denied.
However, it would also be unwise of me to believe that Charlie Wyke was the way forward for this new and in my opinion, improved Sunderland team.
It was the right decision for us all to move on to pastures new.
Granted, the season is only three games old, but Ross Stewart has already shown what he will offer to this team, and what we were missing.
In my opinion, his promotion as our starting striker will have us far closer to winning the league than we were last season.
It does not take a genius to work out the clear differences between Sunderland’s attack last season and so far this season. Pace. Power. General mobility.
Stewart is a fine athlete and has shown these capabilities in various aspects of his overall game. His ability to hassle and harry, stretch the defence and also bring our attackers into the game is a key quality.
The boy can also play, let it not be forgotten. While he is physical and has scored headed goals, he is certainly not the stereotypical ‘tall physical lump’.
Stewart is deceptively good with his feet. The penalty won against Wigan is a perfect example of him bringing the ball into the box and taking on defenders, almost urging the defenders to have a bite at him.
In addition to this, his work rate is outstanding. Time after time, he chases lost causes ensuring the defenders get nothing easy. This paid dividends against MK Dons when he won a penalty – and was possibly unfortunate to have won another.
This was something we did not have regularly last season from our attackers.
Lee Johnson has highlighted the Scot’s work rate. He has also spoken on how keen he is to improve his overall game, especially with his back to goal.
There have already been early signs of this. Imagine with a continued increase in confidence and regular game time how this will improve. This is a new team and it is certainly going to need time to gel.
Not only does this go for him but one can assume with more game time together, the combination play between Stewart as our focal point and the players around him will only improve.
With players like Dan Neil, Aiden McGeady, Lynden Gooch and Alex Pritchard, just to name a few, Sunderland have pace and a potent attacking threat that will frighten defences.
Along with the positive early goal return from Stewart, the capability for him to bring our most dangerous attackers into the game can only bode well for this exciting young squad.
You just have that feeling, the longer this season goes on, the more Ross Stewart will show what we were missing.