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Fan Letters: “Sunderland could do a lot worse than trying Aji Alese up front!”

Suggestions for potential centre forwards and concerns about our defending from set pieces are in the RR mailbox today! Got something to say? RokerReport@yahoo.co.uk

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Regarding our need for a striker, I think we could do a lot worse than try Aji Alese.

Most, if not all young players want to be strikers when they start playing the game, so it won’t be a mystery to him.

We need height, pace, power and confidence up front. Alese has it all and will get great service, so he only needs to put away one chance in five. He also heads the ball well and will be able to handle opposition defenders.

It is even better that we have cover for him with Dennis Cirkin. Alese is a box-to-box player with high energy, so he will defend set pieces, which means we can leave Alex Pritchard out to receive clearances.

Frankly, there isn’t a lot to lose with this experiment and he would be a great target man who could lay balls off for others. By instinct, he seems to love getting forward.

I commend this motion to the house. Don’t shoot me down!

John Marshall.

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, John, thanks for your letter.

Playing Alese upfront is an idea that’s been bandied around for a few weeks now, and I can actually see the argument for it.

He does love to get forward and I’m certain that his physical presence would give us some much-needed punch upfront, but on the other hand, if Tony Mowbray were to try it (which I don’t think he will, in fairness) and it failed, he would be leaving himself open for criticism, and Alese’s confidence might take a knock.

Better to allow him to rampage forward from defence when needed and try to find a goal threat from our many attacking players, in my opinion!

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Hear me out, but what do you think about trying Luke O’Nien up front?

He can score goals, he can head it, and he can hold it up.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, after all!

Jez Defty.

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi Jez. Thanks for getting in touch!

This is certainly one of the more radical ideas we’ve heard as we try to solve our goalscoring issues, and considering O’Nien’s reputation as a jack-of-all-trades, perhaps it’s unsurprising that you think he could do a job for us upfront!

I think that if we were seeking an equaliser in the dying seconds of a game, it might be O’Nien’s turn to sprint forward and try and make himself a hero, but otherwise? I suspect he’ll continue in his current role- a role in which he’s done a fine job, it must be said.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

We continue to look extremely vulnerable at set pieces due to the absence of our injured strikers, whose height and strength would help solidify our defence.

All opposition teams are aware of this: they surround Anthony Patterson and make it difficult for him to deal with crosses, and we are lucky that we haven’t conceded more goals.

What is the sense in bringing everyone back to defend?

Three out of the four (excluding Jack Clarke) are small and lack a physical presence, so surely it would be better to have them on the halfway line. The opposition would then keep three or four to mark them, leaving fewer players in the box and allowing Patterson to come out, collect the ball, and launch it upfield.

The pace of the three, especially Patrick Roberts, could be devastating and swiftly turn defence into attack.

The previous manager also used these negative tactics.

Regards,

Ray.

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Ray. Thanks for your letter.

I do agree that our defending from set pieces has been suspect this season. The likes of Danny Batth and Aji Alese are physically dominant, but there have been times when we have looked extremely edgy, not least when we conceded a last-minute equaliser to QPR earlier in the season.

For me, Anthony Patterson could be more commanding in and around his penalty area.

He needs to cajole and organise his defence at all times, and that’s a part of his game that I’m sure he’ll be working on. When Daniel Ballard returns, that ought to give us more defensive solidity, as well.

Sunderland v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

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