GUS Poyet has defended Jozy Altidore, saying Sunderland need to do more to get the best out of the big striker who has yet to score a goal for the Black Cats in 10 Premier League appearances.
Sunderland paid £6m for the services of a striker who had been prolific for AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie, only for his current goalless streak to prompt reminders of his last spell in the Premier League when 16 starts and 12 substitutes appearances for Hull City yielded only one goal.
But the new head coach says it is clear that the American front-man (pictured) will score goals in the right environment and it is up to Sunderland to provide that sort of setting for him in the Premier League.
Poyet told the Echo: “He has many good qualities but the one that tends to get overlooked is that he has an unbelievable shot on him – so powerful.
“I still can’t believe he is only 24, he hits the ball with such power and we have to use that power to best effect.
“Sometimes it is hard – it is very easy to look at a player and say, oh he doesn’t score goals.
“But sometimes you have to look at how you play, especially if that player has scored in other teams and not in yours.”
While Altidore has yet to get his first Premier League goal for Sunderland, he can count himself desperately unlucky to have had a perfectly legitimate goal against Arsenal in September wrongly chalked off by referee Martin Atkinson.
He has also scored for Sunderland in the Capital One Cup – notching in the 4-2 over MK Dons in August.
But it is abroad where he has proved particularly successful, scoring 38 goals in 59 starts for AZ Alkmaar and 21 goals in 65 appearances for the USA.
He has consistently improved his goal-scoring ratio for the States over the last year, becoming the first US international to score in five consecutive games when he scored a hat-trick in a 4-3 win over Bosnia Herzegovina.
He is expected to start again tonight for the States in their friendly in Austria.
And Poyet says that it is clear that in the right set-up Altidore will score goals – the trick is finding out what best suits the powerfully-built forward.
“In a situation like this, I always analyse myself when I used to play,” Poyet explained. “What worked for me as a player? Well, I needed crosses.
“So the worst team I played in was my national team.
“In my national team in the years that I played, we were a team that played through the middle – we never played the ball out wide. No wingers.
“That meant we weren’t crossing and that meant I could not score. I was rubbish!
“So then people would be saying why is it that he is scoring so many goals in Europe when he can’t score for the national team? And the answer was simple – different teams.
“The Uruguay team’s style did not suit my game and this is my point at Sunderland. We need to find a style and a system which plays to the strengths of our best players.
“If you don’t do that for Jozy, then it is going to be difficult for him to score and we will work on that.”