Dear Roker Report,
The recruitment team knew well before January that we needed a striker.
When Ellis Simms was recalled we needed two, and even without the injury to Ross Stewart, January would be a failure.
Three players for the future don’t mean anything at present, because we’ve lost three players with experience when we were a young team to start with.
After the Middlesbrough game, I believed for the first time that we could mount a promotion attempt and enjoy a decent cup run.
My first game was Jimmy Montgomery’s debut, so I’ve seen a few ups and downs but after the high of beating Middlesbrough, I feel very flat now.
I hope I’m wrong.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Jim. Thanks for getting in touch!
I do think it’s been a mixed bag as far as our January transfer business goes. Not bringing in a couple of strikers has left us short in a key area without a doubt, but the players we’ve brought to the club are clearly talented and with the potential to become key figures for us.
Losing Bailey Wright to Rotherham, albeit on loan, was a shame too.
He was a real leader, a warrior, and a man who brought calmness to the defence, so losing that kind of experience puts slightly more pressure on the young players, and it’ll be fascinating to see how they adapt.
Dear Roker Report,
Now that the dust has settled, I think it’s very difficult to argue that we’re in a stronger position today than we were than on January 1st, so clearly things haven’t gone to plan.
That said, I think it’s unfair to blame the club, especially Kristjaan Speakman, for the failure to add to the striking department.
Had Everton not stalled the development of Ellis Simms by recalling him, or had Ross Stewart not torn his achilles, I would’ve been more than happy with the addition of just Joe Gelhardt.
Nothing in life is plain sailing, and certainly not as a Sunderland supporter.
I fail to believe that the club wasn’t attempting to bring in at least one striker but as Brighton have shown, if a club doesn’t want to let a contracted player go, they don’t go. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so maybe we should’ve gone for Nathan Broadhead when he was available, but would he have been the answer?
Maybe we should’ve offered Everton money for Simms earlier in the window to make the deal permanent, and we should’ve sorted the striker issues, including Stewart’s contract, in the summer.
We’ve got eighteen games left and hopefully Gelhardt plays in every game and scores at least ten goals, but Tony Mowbray has to take chances and get creative.
Personally, I’d like to see Jewison Bennette utilised through the middle, or for Mowbray to possibly throw Isaac Lihadji straight in and try him through the middle as backup to Gelhardt, and prevent the risk of injury or burning him out.
He needs to be wrapped in cotton wool, that’s for sure!
Keep the faith.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Paul. Thank you for your letter!
I agree that Tony Mowbray now has some decisions to make regarding selection and tactics.
We've got plenty of creative and exciting attacking players, but can we establish a system that enables them to create and finish the chances that would’ve been possible had we been able to call on two or more strikers?
Joe Gelhardt is clearly talented, but he can’t be expected to carry the burden on his own, so his teammates are going to have to step up and chip in with goals themselves.
It’ll be interesting to see how it works out!