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The ongoing public criticism of Hemir will serve no purpose whatsoever

Hemir is enduring a tough time and hasn’t made a huge impact at Sunderland, but there are certain things that should be kept behind closed doors.

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A couple of months ago, the support was unanimous and the mood was upbeat.

At the full time whistle during our trip to QPR earlier in the season, Hemir was embraced like a long lost friend when he went over to the away fans at Loftus Road following our 3-1 victory.

Even though he’d barely featured in the game, the travelling red and white masses were determined to show him some love, and you can only imagine how good that must’ve made the young striker feel.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

It was a great image at the end of the game; a player being taken to the hearts of the supporters and given the kind of backing that can be so crucial when settling into life at a new club in a new country.

Since then, however, things haven’t quite been as cheerful.

The goals haven’t arrived, his game time has been limited (something that was encapsulated with a frankly ridiculous and unfair two minute cameo against Leicester) and the chances that have come his way haven’t been taken. Indeed, a couple of snatched efforts in home games have summed it up: rawness, a lack of composure and clarity of thought at key moments.

Despite this, however, I don’t think that Hemir’s cause is being helped by the backdrop of very public criticism that he’s the subject of.

Whether it’s Tony Mowbray’s press conferences or local media outlets looking for an angle, a lot of it feels unnecessary and completely the opposite of how we generally go about our business nowadays.

None of this will serve a positive purpose, and if his head is down and his shoulders are sagging, this is hardly likely to help.

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

It’s easy for us as fans to proclaim that ‘he needs a rocket’, that the club should ‘loan him out’, or something similar, but not every player would respond to that kind of approach, and certainly not a young man in a new country who’s adapting to a completely different style and standard of football.

During Saturday’s pre-match social media chatter, BBC Newcastle asked exactly ‘what had gone wrong’ for Hemir since his summer switch from Benfica, and given what happened thereafter at Home Park, it poured yet more fuel on a simmering fire.

Mowbray seems to be growing increasingly frustrated by Hemir’s apparent inability to ‘get it’ (whatever that actually means in practice) but after overseeing the impressive progress of so many of our young players, the fact that he’s opted for a different tactic in this particular instance is a real puzzle.

Stoke City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jess Hornby/Getty Images

In the summer, for example, Mowbray urged Pierre Ekwah to work on the confrontational side of his game and add a little bit more needle to his skillset, which was fair enough. After all, Ekwah had played a key role in the final weeks of last season, was well-versed in his head coach’s methods, and was clearly settled on Wearside.

Why does the fact that different players develop at different speeds often seem like such an alien concept? Whatever happened to showing patience with new arrivals and accepting that they’ll sometimes endure tough periods as they get to grips with life at their new club?

Yes, we’d all like our young prospects to emerge as fully-formed players but it rarely happens that way.

Not every player we sign will follow Jobe Bellingham’s path, fitting in seamlessly and showing no fear. Others are slow burners, taking their time, learning as they go and gradually getting in tune with their teammates and understanding what it takes to contribute at this level.

Hemir has been brought to Sunderland as a long-term investment, not someone to be written off after X amount of games.

It’s such a short-sighted way of looking at things and in our search for this mystical ‘proven striker’, we’re in danger of dismissing the promise of youth out of hand without giving it a chance to flourish.

Sunderland v Southampton FC - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It might work out for Hemir at Sunderland or it might not. He could eventually develop into a potent Championship-level striker or he might not make the grade, but one thing is for sure: he needs and deserves as much backing and as many chances as possible.

Roy Keane once said that Alex Ferguson was incredibly adept at backing his players in public, regardless of how much they’d messed up, whilst giving them a rollicking behind closed doors when needed.

Mowbray has been immensely impressive in this regard for the majority of his time in charge, but I can’t help but feel he’s going about this the wrong way.

For the good of Hemir’s Sunderland career and more importantly, his wellbeing, I hope that something is being worked out behind closed doors, because an unhappy player is never going to be a productive player, as we’ve seen so many times over the years.


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