I thought that Hemir looked pretty sharp when he came on against Hull - he offered us a small spark in what was an otherwise dull and boring affair.
I was pretty outspoken in my stance towards the end of Mowbray’s reign that I felt he managed and handled Hemir terribly. What did he think would be gained from using every press meeting as a chance to remind people that he didn’t particularly rate this young boy making his first foray into first team football? I found it really weird. All the while I was thinking about what this must be doing to Hemir’s confidence - it must have been shattered.
One of the things I think Michael Beale has definitely tried to address is the striker situation. He’s made it very clear that the problems with our forwards don’t particularly lie with the strikers themselves - he’s mentioned repeatedly that we create chances, but are guilty of overplaying instead of being more direct. And since Beale came in we’ve seen Rusyn score twice for the U21s and twice for the first team, we’ve seen Mayenda bag two for the U21s, Hemir has one for the U21s too, and then Burstow scored a header against Stoke in the league. Whether you like Beale or not, you’d have to admit that we are making progress up top.
Hemir’s looking more confident as a result, and the performances from him in recent weeks indicate he’s enjoying his football more. He looks more assured and is carrying himself on the pitch more like a first teamer. It could just be that he needed the spell between when he signed and now to actually get fit and up to speed with playing English football - whatever the case may be, I think he looks more ready now to make an impact.
Whilst I’m not quite ready to totally write Burstow off, I think there’s ultimately more merit in investing our time and effort into Rusyn and Hemir as first and foremost they are our players. I think we need to start Rusyn and give him a run of games, but those minutes where we’d usually be looking to bring another striker on later in games should be given to Hemir. I think over a spell of 5-10 games you’ll get more from him than you would Burstow, and if he can score a goal or two he could even contend for a start in the first team ahead of Rusyn, depending on how things go.
Ultimately I think Hemir is more ready now than he has been at any other point since he arrived and we’d be foolish not to capitalise on the confidence he’ll have gained from his goal and performance on Monday night. Strike while the iron is hot, and all that.
Andrew Smithson says...
The lad certainly has the physical attributes to be a handful and it looked during preseason that he can finish if he is given the right opportunities. He has found the going tougher since then but if he wants to succeed now is the time for him to step up - we’ve got three games in a week coming up and that means Michael Beale will be keen to keep things fresh, so if Hemir has been working hard in training he’ll be in the coach’s thoughts, even if it is just in terms of coming on as a substitute.
Monday night will hopefully have given him a boost if he is to feature for the first team any time soon, as not only did he score the winner for the U21s but he also did well in the build up to it by helping start the move. There was a noticeable improvement in his output after that, and once he’d stopped being on his heels he really came into it - that makes me think he is a confidence player and that once he breaks his duck in the senior side he could flourish. It certainly seemed in his early outings that he was desperate to get off the mark, and we’ve all seen it where a player finally scores they then relax and things come more naturally.
I do think it has been hard for any of our strikers to establish themselves when they keep dipping in and out of the matchday squads. Coming into a new country has no doubt made it harder for Hemir to find a groove too, but he has been here a while now and is at a stage where the only way he will develop quickly is if he gets a string of minutes.
If he can get a better understanding of the game over here and show some more fire in his belly as it were, he has a chance still of making it - the club allowing Eliezer Mayenda to go out on loan suggests to me that they’ve seen enough in Hemir recently to think he can push on, and if he ends the season well he’ll be in a position to properly kick on next season.
Malc Dugdale says...
I’d really like to see Hemir on the bench and given some minutes this weekend after his goal for the U21s.
To a large extent, strikers thrive on confidence, and his will be higher having bagged a goal, albeit not at Championship level.
Nazariy Rusyn scored twice at the same level against Leeds United’s U21s and has kicked on since, as we saw on Teesside when he came off the bench to bag the leveller.
Hemir and Rusyn are very different prospects.
We need to develop different options up front, as there will be days that Rusyn can’t make the impact we need. Hemir is a physical unit and his attributes will be better suited to some games, and vice versa.
The focus needs to be on growing our own talent and boosting them when they’re on the up. In terms of how he’ll fit into the squad, Mason Burstow needs to move down the pecking order after a very poor showing at Middlesbrough.
We’ll be sending him back to Chelsea in a few months, so our gains are amplified by getting minutes in the tank for Hemir in support of Rusyn, and for others who are shining in the U21s.
It may even be an idea to try Rusyn and Hemir together where games and results allow, maybe for the last twenty minutes of a match, if we manage make a game secure by then.
After all, a combination of a taller and shorter player can be quite effective!
Phil West says…
Slowly and inexorably, it feels as though the ‘curse of the non-scoring striker’ is finally being exorcised and that the goalscoring duties are gradually being shared around the team as opposed to us being heavily reliant on Jack Clarke to come up with the goods.
As a result, opportunities are sure to open up, and although Nazariy Rusyn should undoubtedly be our first choice striker, Hemir could certainly find himself being eased back into the first team picture, especially in the light of Mason Burstow’s ongoing struggles in front of goal.
The young Portuguese striker has had a tough time since arriving last summer, and to back up what Gav said, I do feel that he was appallingly mismanaged at times by Tony Mowbray, not least when he threw him on against Leicester with mere minutes to go in what felt like an utterly misjudged move.
As such, his morale and confidence must’ve taken a major hit, but we’re now in the rebuilding phase under Michael Beale and I’m sure he’ll be eager to see what the former Benfica prodigy can offer.
Scoring for the U21s earlier in the week will have done Hemir’s confidence the world of good, and there’s no doubt that he’s got the physical attributes to be an effective frontman in this league, although he’s still got some way to go before he becomes a regular in Beale’s team.
That said, our next four games look quite favourable and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the young striker included in match day squads and maybe entering the fray with twenty minutes to go, either in place of Rusyn or as a foil for the Ukrainian.
If he can nab a goal or two during that time, so much the better, because nobody would want him to fail at Sunderland and he’s got an excellent opportunity that only he can make most of.
Let’s hope he does!