EMANUELE Giaccherini can be Sunderland’s version of Gianfranco Zola by injecting some much-needed magic into the final third.
That’s the view of Sunderland boss Gus Poyet, who spent four successful years at Chelsea playing alongside ex-Italy striker and current Watford manager Zola.
Giaccherini has blown hot and cold since arriving at the Stadium of Light in a £6.8million move during the summer and found himself sacrificed during the first half of last weekend’s defeat at Stoke City after the dismissal of Wes Brown.
But Sunderland have been working on getting the most out of the Italian international, in the belief that he can solve their creative problems after the Black Cats have netted a paltry eight goals in 12 Premier League outings this season.
Poyet told the Echo: “The most difficult part of football nowadays is the final third.
“There are plenty of teams who have an idea and can play the right kind of football.
“But you hear managers say many times that the last pass, the last decision or delivery has let them down.
“That’s where you spend your money.
“You need someone to stand up and give you something special.
“It’s not news. It was always like that.
“When we got close to the box at Chelsea, we gave it to Gianfranco Zola. He would always do something with it.
“That’s why he was so good because he would find the final pass, the shot or the runner. That’s quality.
“We’re trying to get Giaccherini to do that for us.
“We’ve seen him play for Italy and the position he played (in last week’s 2-2 draw against Nigeria) where he linked things.
“We can improve as a team to use the characteristics of the players.”
In the last three games, Giaccherini has been used in a wide midfield role, yet Poyet won’t rule out pushing the 28-year-old inside into the hole behind the striker.
“It’s a possibility to play him in the middle, depending how we play,” he said.
“If you start playing long and Giacchy is in the middle...
“But depending on the system and how good we are on the ball, it’s an option.”
Poyet is also looking for more from Adam Johnson, with the 26-year-old finding himself on the opposite flank to Giaccherini in Sunderland’s 4-5-1 formation.
Like the former Juventus man, Sunderland have been working on maximising Johnson’s potential on the training ground this week.
And Poyet admits that if the pair fail to give Sunderland a greater attacking threat in the next few games, then he may have to revert to an orthodox front two again.
“We’ve been working really hard with Adam over the last few days - last week, but especially this week,” added the former Brighton manager.
“We need more presence in the box and if we can’t find it, then we’re going to have to change the system.
“If you can’t change the players, you have to change the system.
“At the moment, we’re close and getting better. But I need to see in the next few games whether this is the best system for us.”