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Roker Roundtable: Discussing Sunderland’s lack of strikers

Our failure to add another centre forward before the transfer deadline leaves Joe Gelhardt as our only option up front. We asked our writers for their thoughts on the situation.

Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

It would’ve been ideal to get another striker in, but I do think we’ll be OK for the rest of the season with Joe Gelhardt complimented by our ‘false nine’ system.

Any team that can produce a 3-0 performance at Reading has to get some credit, but we need to see what Gelhardt can do and assess when we need to use that system as our main attacking threat.

That approach got us through two to three months of either having no strikers or only Ellis Simms to call on.

Whether we can push for the playoffs without Stewart or another attacker, I’m not so sure, but who would’ve put us in the top ten more than halfway into the season, and only a couple of points off the playoffs?

Am I shocked that we didn’t bring in another striker?

Shocked is a strong word. Surprised, yes, but if the options after Stewart’s injury didn’t fit the model, I’m less surprised that the recruitment team didn’t scrap their ethos for the sake of four months.

We’re already in a better position than many fans would’ve asked for at this stage, so that doesn’t give us a reason to throw our strategy away for one window.

Maybe we stretched ourselves financially to get Gelhardt as he had many suitors, and that could well have limited our options to find a replacement for Stewart at short notice. Only the club and the player know, and maybe that risk will pay off but time will tell.

Let’s get behind the lads.

The players can’t do anything about sub-optimal transfer news, but they can give their all during the remaining games. This is a good team playing great football, and with or without another striker I’m going to enjoy the majority of the rest of the season!

Sunderland Unveil New Loan SIgning Joe Gelhardt Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Mark Roberts says…

There is no shock here, merely the pattern and the club’s strategy continuing.

Will we bring in an out-of-contract striker? I very much doubt it. I would’ve thought that bringing Ellis Simms back was high on the agenda, but with the Everton fiasco in the last few weeks, it became inevitable that he wouldn’t rejoin, which was a pity.

The strategy is fairly simple: pick up exciting young players who can improve the team and hopefully sell them for a profit later.

Being sustainable is a priority, and the likes of Sheffield United and Reading both have financial problems and are operating under transfer embargoes placed on them by the EFL. Also, the majority of Championship clubs haven’t spent much, bar Watford.

Most of the additions have been players who are in the last six months of their contracts and a plethora of loan signings. I’m disappointed that another striker didn’t arrive, but I would’ve been fine if Ross Stewart was fit.

Am I confident? Yes, as far as staying in this league goes.

It all comes down to our aspirations for this season and how Joe Gelhardt fits in. I understand the club’s position but when I look at the league I know we could challenge for the playoffs, assuming we suffered no further injuries.

I think it was a year too early for Kyril Louis-Dreyfus to really push for promotion, but he wasn’t here for back-to-back relegations. Maybe another good striker would make the difference, so I’ll settle for winning the proper cup this season and a promotion next season!

Mitch Marshall says…

I’m surprisingly relaxed about our disappointing end to the transfer window.

While we did struggle the last time we didn’t have Ellis Simms or Ross Stewart available, we still played some good football. One win in eight wasn’t brilliant, but that’s forgetting we scored three goals at Reading without either of our ‘SAS’ sharpshooters on the pitch.

We were also pretty unlucky against Preston and Blackpool if I remember correctly, and hopefully Joe Gelhardt will win us at least one game like that, even if it’s unfair to cast him as the saviour of our season at this point.

Ultimately, this window might cost us a chance of squeezing into the playoffs.

I’m sure I’ll be as hacked off as the next person that we didn’t sign another striker the next time we don’t win a game, whether that’s because of the much maligned ‘model’ or simply because our star striker suffered a season-ending injury days before the transfer window closed.

For that reason, I think the doom-mongering from certain quarters is absolutely absurd.

Injuries happen, but having Stewart and Gelhardt would’ve been totally fine given the array of other attackers we have, so I strongly disagree with the argument that not bringing in another striker was ‘criminal’.

That we even have the luxury of bemoaning this combination of events potentially denying us a playoff place rather than condemning us to a relegation scrap is testament to the overwhelming success of the new structure.

At the end of the day, we can still enjoy watching some of the best young players we’ve had in years, and after what we’ve been through in the past decade, that’ll do me just fine.

Reading v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images


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