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Sunderland v Crewe Alexandra - Carabao Cup First Round

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Groundhog Day

Another home game that started with so much promise but ultimately ended in defeat. As the whistle blew for full time I could already hear the Twitter meltdown, as calls for the owner to spend money and buy a striker began to enter the ether....

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

The dust has settled now since Sunday and the initial frustration of our obvious issues being highlighted again but I would ask what’s more important, getting a striker in early so we can fill a gap and hopefully start the season strong or get the right man in by the end of the window and get the benefit long term?

The backbone of our team is strong, the ethos and work rate are there for all to see. This young developing squad of player is worth ten times most championship teams outside of the relegated three and as part of the model at some point we will have to sell one or two of these assets. It's essential to keep an eye on the long term and overall healthy state we find our club in and not focus on one game where yet again the referee gave us very little.

If Jobe could have squeezed that chance just under the bar or Dan Neil had taken his chances we would be looking at a comfortable win, I really don’t get the hype around Ipswich. Granted this will sound a bit like sour grapes but we controlled the game for large periods and similar to the Coventry game earlier in the day we should have been one or two up before the predictable returning player scores scenario that we’ve seen many times.

Jack Clarke didn’t have his best game and kept running down blind alleys but he could and maybe should have had a penalty just before half time.

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

We do need a striker, someone experienced and a genuine threat to support and bring on the young players. We also need a recognised centre half playing alongside Ballard, as good as O’Nien is with the ball I would like to see Seelt or Triantis get game time otherwise we may as well loan them out. If Jobe is good enough to start then why not one of those two?

On that man or should I say boy, I thought he was outstanding particularly in the opening 45 minutes where he played like it was his 100th appearance. He will surely improve as he gets older and gets more first team minutes, with him and Ekwah we have class and physical presence across the midfield.

I honestly think we are in a good place despite our start, the major problem is the end of August transfer window deadline. It makes no sense to start a competition off when the squads aren’t finalised.

We will no doubt make two or three signings over the next three weeks and other clubs will lose key players. The whole league will have a different feel and then and only then can you judge our transfer dealings and our chances of another promotion push.

You only have to take a look at our squad value on paper, in comparison to the rest of the league we have significant assets all over the park. If we had blown our budget on Ellis Simms for example and paid four times what I think he’s actually worth would we be happy? The relegated teams have premier league squads and due to parachute payments and them gambling on an instant return are very strong. They will however lose one or two mainly Southampton if the rumours are to be believed.

The long-term plan is working, we have a young talented exciting team with sell on value. We play attractive football and with a fit Ross Stewart would walk games like Sundays.

Our home form does need to improve, we have to be more clinical, get ahead early and then finish teams off. We had a similar start last season where we faded after an hour but I think it's more that extra bit of quality rather than fitness or desire that we lack.

We do miss Amad at times but it's easy to forget that early last season we thrashed Rotherham at home before Stewart’s injury, we also dismantled Reading away without a recognised forward so it's not all down to one player. The league is stronger this season for sure, we are short of bodies in key areas and we have players who need to gain experience at this level. Once we are ten games into the season we will really start to see what this team can do and if the hype around the bigger teams is warranted.

One game doesn’t make a season and neither does one player, back the recruitment policy, back the lads and enjoy another exciting ride.


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