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Is a lack of goals from Sunderland’s strikers a worry?

We’re not currently struggling to find the back of the net, but do we need to get our centre forwards firing sooner rather than later?

Photo by Stephen White - CameraSport via Getty Images

Anthony Gair says…

Is it a myth that your strikers have to score in order for a team to be successful?

I think that as Sunderland fans, we’ve always loved the bloke who puts the ball in the onion bag the most. That’s why Super Kev is Super Kev, and it’s why Darren Bent was hated when he left.

Young Mason Burstow has caused problems with his strength and tenacity, but not enough to challenge goalkeepers, which is a shame.

Hemir is a player. You can see it when he hasn’t got the ball, and you can see it with his movement. He’s going to be exceptional but at the moment, maybe he’s a little too raw to start games for us.

Nazariy Rusyn looks like the real deal at twenty four years old. He’s pacy, skillful and likes to run off the defenders. Goals will come for the Ukrainian, and I look forward to that.

However, to answer the question, it’s always nice to have a striker who finds the back of the net, but it’s always nice to have players around them who score as well.

Sunderland vs Middlesbrough Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says…

The signing of Nazariy Rusyn was a protracted affair and I was so intrigued by the constant speculation surrounding his potential signing that I went online and watched videos of his goals.

As is often the case in this scenario, he looked fantastic.

He seems to be a natural finisher with a wide range of skills. Good movement, capable of making intelligent runs, happy to have the ball played to his feet or in behind, good positional sense and capable of scoring everything from tap-ins to deft chips.

Rusyn isn’t a target man, although he does appear to have a good leap, which was a quality possessed by the likes of Kevin Phillips, proving that you don’t have to be a giant to head the ball.

Rusyn also appears to have a bit of physicality to his game, but this isn’t a critical appreciation of his qualities.

In short, my view is that he’s ideal as our main striker because he suits the way we play.

We’ve been playing ‘strikerless’ for much of the past year and our players are confident in playing that way. Therefore, Rusyn will drop deep in the way that a ‘false nine’ would, and will link up the play with his neat and tidy style in possession.

However, unlike a ‘false nine’, he’ll make darting runs into the channels and in behind centrally, running defences ragged and crucially putting himself in the right places to put the ball in the net.

Mason Burstow has struggled and Hemir’s chances have been restricted after a slow start, but they could have a key role to play and should absolutely not be written off. Eliezer Mayenda is also waiting in the wings and will be eager to make his mark.

Whether we end up playing with one or more of the above, only time will tell, but it’s my belief that Rusyn, who’s twenty four and absolutely not a kid in footballing terms, is due a run in the side and if he starts scoring, it’ll set the tone for others to follow when their respective opportunities come along.

Malc Dugdale says…

It’s going to be interesting to see how we navigate the coming weeks after decent showings by Rusyn and Hemir on Saturday. That was a great win and a much-needed one too.

The difference from Stoke to Norwich was like chalk and cheese, and it could be a challenge for Tony Mowbray to decide which way to lean.

Personally, I think he’ll push to get these lads firing and that Mason Burstow may stay on the bench for a while. However, I also feel that Mowbray will use what’s right for each fixture, but he can’t do that until he has more than one working approach.

We do need to get the strikers not only contributing but also scoring, as there’ll be times that the ‘strikerless’ approach won’t get us goals, but what I don’t expect to see is an abandonment of the idea of goals coming from right across the squad.

Teams are easier to work out and play against when they only have one option, and that was a problem for us last season, too.

If we can turn Hemir and Rusyn into threats and maybe even scoring a goal between them every game or two, teams will have more options to have to cover defensively.

That’ll also leave more room for Jack Clarke, Patrick Roberts, Jobe, Alex Pritchard and even Dan Neil and Pierre Ekwah to shoot and score, so developing these lads may actually help the other approach, rather than these options being mutually exclusive.

The fact is that we’re very good at what we do when we do it well, as seen with Neil’s goal on Saturday, so we need to make sure we don’t rip everything up in simply trying to help our new strikers add more end product.

If playing with less reliance on the new strikers is the best approach tactically, then we’re good at it and we should go with it and adjust as and when it’s needed.

If we can continue to improve our other options with Rusyn and Hemir especially (as Burstow has had a long time to show his value already, and we don’t own him) then they can only be an addition to our armour when we need a different way to work.

The main point for me is we’ve started to turn a corner, so let’s keep building from that strong home win by whatever means necessary.

Sunderland v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


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