What Chris Coleman wants from final attacking signing and where it leaves out of favour duo
Chris Coleman sprang a surprise on Thursday night as a move for Kazenga LuaLua came to rapid fruition.
The former Brighton winger has signed a short-term deal but starting at St Andrew’s, Coleman believes he can help him realise his attacking vision.
The energy and flair of Josh Maja and Joel Asoro against Hull City was a revelation and the 27-year-old has been brought in to add to that.
Coleman believes he now has three pieces of the puzzle. He wants one more.
An experienced figure, a centre-forward with presence and physicality. A deal for Chris Martin fell through but there are irons in the fire, with Kyle Lafferty heavily linked.
If the Sunderland boss lands it he will be pleased with the options at his disposal, particularly after losing Lewis Grabban and James Vaughan early in the window.
He said: “Kaz has got it all to prove, and he is here until the end of the season.
“He gave up a lot at Brighton because it wasn’t quite happening for him out on the pitch, he wasn’t playing football.
“He’s come here, he’s signed until the end of the season, and he’s got it all to prove.
“We need to get him a bit fitter, because he has missed a lot of football, but he offers something that we haven’t got already.
“He has that pace, creativity and explosiveness.
“I think when we signed him people thought it was another winger, but I don’t see him that way – I definitely see him playing more through the middle for us.
“If over the next two days we can get one more in that position, maybe with a bit more experience, a different type, then with Kaz, Joel and Josh, that’s a good blend for us.
“We’re just missing that one more in that position.”
Coleman was thrilled with his side’s intent against Hull City and during his time with Wales saw at first hand the benefits of having strong counter-attacking options.
Sunderland’s clash with fellow strugglers Birmingham City will likely be a tense one but Coleman wants his team to replicate their approach and hopes LuaLua, likely to feature as a substitute, can add to that threat.
He said: “Now is our chance to build on the Hull win. We had more energy, more offensive threat. We played on the front foot, without fear, which you have to.
“That’s why we brought Kaz in, as a second striker really, he’s got that explosive pace and can get you a goal out of nothing. He’s here until the end of the season, he’s got to prove himself, he ticks all the boxes for us.
“He’s something a little bit different to help Josh and Joel. We need a bit more help in that department but this is the football we want to play. We’re not going to sit for 90 minutes, home or away, and wish our life away. You have to pose a threat and we did against Hull. Young Ethan Robson really complimented Catts, it would really well for us. There were a lot of good performances.
“Kaz has got that threat. We saw it last week with Asoro and Maja against Hull, no defender wants to be running back towards his own goal with someone chasing you down, or you chasing after someone.
“Maybe we’ve lacked a bit of that, but with Asoro and Maj we have that – they want to run in behind and that gets us up the pitch.
“If you have that pace at the top of the pitch, you have that option.”
LuaLua’s arrival sparked speculation about the futures of Aiden McGeady and Callum McManaman, both of whom were unused substitutes in the Hull City win as Coleman favoured his youthful options.
However, the Black Cats boss insists both can play a big part in the fight against the drop this season and believes competition for places will be crucial.
He said: “When we play with three centre-backs, we predominately play with three strikers or one and two number 10s.
“Aiden and Callum are wide attacking players but they can play inside as 10s, and they have done with good success at Nottingham Forest.
“We have choices there, and you need choices, although of course, you can’t play them all.
“George Honeyman has been outstanding playing behind the strikers, too.
“The whole point is that we have players who are knocking on my door because they want to get back in the team. They are not guaranteed to start, because if the players in the team are playing well, there is a fight for places and that’s what I want, and it’s what we need.”