Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray has addressed the club’s attacking options ahead of tomorrow’s Championship clash with Rotherham United at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats are winless from their opening two league fixtures of the season, whilst also exiting the EFL Cup on penalties against Crewe Alexandra.
Goals have proven difficult to come by, with star striker Ross Stewart currently on the sidelines nursing an Achilles tendon injury which he suffered in January. There is also speculation that the 27-year-old could join Scottish giants Rangers before the end of the transfer window on September 1st.
Mowbray has recruited two attackers thus far this summer, bringing in youngsters Eliezer Mayenda from French side FC Sochaux and Luis Semedo from Benfica, but experience is likely to be needed if the Wearside club are hoping to challenge for a play-off position again.
It’s a conundrum that the boss is well-aware of and one that he is contemplating as he searches for his first points of the campaign tomorrow. Speaking in his press conference ahead of the visit of Rotherham, via Sunderland Echo, Mowbray said;
“They’re young lads and if anything I’m trying to accentuate the need for urgency to them, because we’ve had a lot of the ball in the first two games and I think they’ve felt comfortable.
“We’ve moved the ball around, we’ve created chances and yet we’ve found a way to lose. We can’t get confident in dominating games and not winning. So if anything, I’m the one trying to increase the intensity in the team and creating an urgency about finding a way to win.
“And that’s what we’ll be trying to do, my conundrum is who are going to be the forward players? Who is going to play at the top end of the pitch, are we going to change the formation to get enough players at the top end of the pitch in a game where we feel we’ll have a lot of possession. Or do we just keep doing what we’re doing, and hope the luck changes?”
Sunderland are a team that feel they should be challenging in the upper reaches of the division and know that three points tomorrow could prove to be a catalyst for a season that has yet to get up and running.
Referring back to last season, Mowbray was quick to point out that he navigated a solution following Stewart’s injury and Ellis Simms’ return to Everton after the Toffees cut short his season-long loan at Christmas;
“We have to find a way to win, and I’ve always said that.
“When Ross Stewart got his injury and Ellis went back I said it, we have to find ways to win and I don’t want to sit here and say, ‘we haven’t got strikers so we can’t win a game’. We did it last season enough.”
The former Celtic boss still has one eye on his star man’s return next month and called for the fans to stick with the team;
“We have to work hard and get the fans believing in the team because I know they will stick with us if we fight and work hard. Football supporters aren’t stupid, they can see the missing ingredients in our team.
“We’ve got a few weeks and we will resolve it and I only see positive things moving forward, because in four or five weeks Ross Stewart will be fit and I’ll be sitting here moaning that I’ve got too many strikers and I’m upsetting the balance of the team. Let’s hope that is the case.”
Sunderland’s woes in front of goal are not yet a huge cause for concern, particularly with it being so early in the season.
The young lads they have brought in could still have a major impact on the team and there will be hopes that they can share the load, much as Amad Diallo and Ellis Simms (before his return to Everton) did last season.
Ross Stewart’s absence is clearly a big loss, but there is also his contract scenario lingering in the background and it may still be wise to cash in before the end of the transfer window to avoid losing him for free next summer.