Luke O'Nien addresses Sunderland's striker issue and makes honest admission after recent struggles

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Luke O’Nien was asked about Sunderland’s striker problems after a hugely disappointing end to the 2023/24 season.

Luke O’Nien says not having a goalscoring number nine wasn’t solely the cause of Sunderland’s disappointing end to the season.

The Black Cats endured a disappointing second half of the campaign, winning just two of their last 15 matches, while Jack Clarke was the only player to score more than ten goals, netting 15 in total.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sunderland did sign four new strikers last summer, yet Nazariy Rusyn, Mason Burstow, Hemir Semedo and Eliezer Mayenda (who was loaned out to Hibernian in January) all struggled to adapt in the Championship. Only Rusyn managed to score twice, following goals against Preston and Middlesbrough, while Burstow netted just one goal during his loan spell from Chelsea.

Asked if it might have been a different season if Sunderland possessed a number nine who was scoring goals, O’Nien replied: “I think that’s fair to say. You look at the teams that are up there in the league, they have number nines that score goals. I think as a group it’s important that we develop that side of it.

“The season before we didn’t quite have a number nine for the back half of the season and we found a way, this season maybe not as much. All I can do, all the group can do is work with what we’ve got so maybe that’s a question not for me.

“As a player we work with what we’ve got and if you look at the last few games we were very tight at the back, they hadn’t had many chances, one or two chances a game, and we’ve actually created a lot of chances as well.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I think when you don’t win games it’s easy to point the finger at that but on reflection we’ve created chances, we’ve been quite solid and I think just individual errors, including myself, individual errors have cost us, whether that’s in the box ready to pull the trigger or defensively. 

“We’ve been a bit naive and I think at the end of the day that’s the thing that’s cost us rather than not having an out-and-out number nine.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.