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Sunderland v Crewe Alexandra - Carabao Cup First Round

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Sunderland’s quest for a fit and firing striker has a little while to run

Forwards are a valuable commodity, and as Paddy Hollis writes, we’re currently involved in a tussle or a tango as we seek reinforcements - depending on your perspective.

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

‘Goals win games’.

That’s probably the simplest way you can describe football, but outside of this, it starts getting a bit technical and philosophical. Goals haven’t been a problem for Sunderland in the last twelve months, but having multiple strikers available (or even one, during certain periods) has been tricky.

The start of the 2023/2024 season has seen a clamour for more forwards.

We’ve signed two strikers this summer, both of whom are young and rough around the edges. Eliezer Mayenda endured the worst possible start to his Wearside career by getting injured during his first training session, and Luis ‘Hemir’ was substituted less than an hour into his senior debut.

Ross Stewart included, we’ve currently got three strikers at the club, but unfortunately, two of them are injured for at least a couple of months. It seems as though it pays not to be a striker at Sunderland- you might find yourself not getting injured, which would be a start!

Sunderland Unveil New Signing Eliezer Mayenda Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

The demand for added firepower and players with greater experience has been circulating around the echo chamber of social media for weeks, but in my opinion, far too many people are reacting irrationally at this point in the window.

Judgement should really be reserved for when the window closes, and given that there are three weeks until deadline day, we can surely give the regime the time to sign one or two fit and firing strikers? I think so, anyway.

Another important factor to consider is that last season, we played for what felt like nearly the entire campaign without a striker, but despite this, we finished as the fourth highest scorers in the division.

Ah, but we also had Amad Diallo last year, I hear you say. We certainly did, but even the little magician himself only had scored three goals by the start of December. The goals came from elsewhere before then, from several players we’ve utilised at the start of this season.

There’s been a lot of anger aimed at Kristjaan Speakman and company in the last week, and if you didn’t know the exact time of year, you’d think we were plummeting towards relegation having lost multiple games in a row.

We’ve played one league game, a fixture in which we looked like the better team for large parts, but we ultimately lost to an Ipswich side who took their chances.

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

Tuesday night’s cup defeat to Crewe Alexandra was followed by a dramatic wait for Tony Mowbray to appear at the post-match press conference.

The delay led to many on social media assumed that he was quitting, but when he did turn up, he apologised and said the delay was due to discussing transfer targets with Speakman.

Irons are clearly in the fire for strikers.

We’ve been told that by both Mowbray and Speakman, but the issue is that a ‘proven striker’ costs money.

It’s been made abundantly clear that the ‘model’ won’t be broken for any one player, and rightly so. Our rebuild as a well-run club on the pitch is one which - given the mess we were in just a few seasons ago- is going to take a while.

I don’t want us shelling out £15 to £20 million on a single player.

This kind of reckless spending during the Premier League days set us on a downward trajectory which almost led to a financial collapse and resulted in many dreadful footballers coming for massively inflated wages and who were grossly overpaid.

We don’t need to break the bank to achieve success. We’ll do it our way and although it’ll be a slow process, it’s one which could reap significant rewards.


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