April 24, 2024

Dan Neil talks about Sunderland’s striker problem and the moves made by head coach Michael Beale.

Dan Neil has challenged Sunderland’s forwards to step up and seize their opportunities, but he does not believe their lack of goals is an excuse.

During the summer transfer window, the Black Cats brought in four new forwards: Nazariy Rusyn, Mason Burstow, Eliezer Mayenda, and Hemir Semedo. Rusyn is the only one of the four who has scored this season, with a single goal against Preston on New Year’s Day.
Despite this, Rusyn began on the bench in Sunderland’s 2-1 loss to Ipswich, as head coach Michael Beale chose not to play a recognised forward. As a result, fans in the away end chanted ‘we want a striker’ when their team fell behind 2-1 with 15 minutes remaining.

When asked how difficult it is to play without a known striker, Neil told the Echo: “It’s just the situation we’re in.” We definitely brought in strikers over the summer. None of them have gotten off to a fast start, but we need to keep pushing them in training to keep working hard and developing. If they want it, they can have it. It all comes down to whether they want to take it and do what it takes to progress, get better, and prove that it’s their shirt.

“For the time being, it’s very choppy and changey.” I believe the no striker rule is a bit of a ruse. We scored a lot of goals last year, and we’ve scored a lot of goals this year while playing without a striker. It would be wonderful to have a striker who can fire and score, but we don’t want to use that as an excuse because we made the playoffs without a true number nine last year. We must also accept responsibility for this.”


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Sunderland have scored 37 goals in 27 league games this season (12 clubs in the second tier have scored more) and are currently seventh in the table, just outside the play-offs on goal difference. Since Beale succeeded Tony Mowbray as head coach, the Black Cats have earned seven points from five league games, with the former now getting more time on the training pitch ahead of Friday’s home game against Hull.

“It’s a little bit different than the last manager, and we need to come to terms with what he wants to change quickly,” Neil said when questioned about the changes Beale has made. “I still don’t feel like it’s as smooth as we’d like it to be, but it’s a process, and not having as hectic a schedule now will help all the lads and all the coaching staff.”

“It’s just a tad more out of possession.” We’ve been considering working on a couple items outside of possession. I’m not going to reveal all of the secrets, but it gives us a chance to work on it in the next weeks. Hopefully, we’ll improve and come away with points in the near future.”

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