June 25, 2024

Sunderland fans demanded the introduction of a striker at Ipswich Town, but their request might also apply to the current transfer window.

‘We want a striker,’ Sunderland fans sang late in the game against Ipswich Town. With their team losing 2-1 at Portman Road, the 2,000-strong traveling crowd couldn’t understand why manager Michael Beale stuck with Jobe Bellingham up forward, supported by Alex Pritchard, while three strikers were left on the bench.

When Nazariy Rusyn came on for the final five minutes and on-loan Chelsea player Mason Burstow was given a token one-minute run-out, the cries gave way to ironic cheers. Surprisingly, neither made an impression.

Sunderland fans demanded a striker, although it might just as easily have been directed at sporting director Kristjaan Speakman, who was watching from the directors’ box. Despite the four strikers who signed in the summer scoring just one goal between them, the Black Cats have mounted a play-off bid, with Rusyn eventually finding the net in the New Year’s Day triumph over Preston.

Sunderland must add additional firepower during the current transfer window if they are to maintain their challenge throughout the final 19 games of the season. Not a “future” striker, but one who hits the ground running and produces the goals that this team so clearly, definitely, and desperately requires.

Sunderland do not require a world-beater, only an attacking focal point with Championship experience and a track record. Someone must complete the opportunities that this brilliant young side presents. But, until such a player appears, Sunderland may lose out on a top-six spot in May by three, six, or eight points, leaving supporters to ponder ‘what if?’

It is still not too late. Sunderland are eighth in the table, missing out on the play-offs only on goal difference, and the transfer window is still open for more than a fortnight – plenty of time to bring in reinforcements. Sunderland, on the other hand, requires reinforcements.

Their form has been uneven, and this season may yet go either way, either up towards the play-offs or down into midtable. Winger Jack Clarke remains the team’s talisman and the one player Sunderland just cannot afford to lose.

 

How much the stats say Sunderland should accept for Jack Clarke in January,  if at all – SportsByte

 

He is the sole consistent supplier of goals in the lack of a functioning striker. He struck again at Ipswich, scoring his 13th goal of the season to put the Black Cats ahead before the half-hour mark. But Ipswich was always a bigger threat, and they responded soon through Kayden Jackson.

The turning point came 20 minutes into the second half, when Beale substituted Adil Aouchiche for Abdoullah Ba, and he almost immediately blew a huge chance after Bellingham got a toe to keeper Vaclav Hladky’s slack pass, which diverted it to Clarke, and he teed up the Frenchman just inside the box, only for him to shoot narrowly wide. That would have put Sunderland back in front and made them the clear favorites to win.

Instead, less than 10 minutes later, Aouchiche conceded a stunningly cheap free-kick, Leif Davis’ throw was spot-on, and Conor Chaplin was left with a free header eight yards out to score the game-winning goal.

Ipswich went on to generate more chances and hit the post, but what mattered most was that they broke their five-game league winless drought, closed the gap on league leaders Leicester City to seven points, and continued their drive for back-to-back promotions. Sunderland and Beale’s next game is a Friday night home fixture against play-off opponents Hull City.

After the catastrophe in the FA Cup derby and the defeat at Suffolk, the Hull game already feels like a watershed point in Sunderland’s season.

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