Wise Men Say: Why Charlie Wyke could be the answer to Sunderland's striking problem
Sunderland finally got their season up and running with a relatively convincing 3-1 Carabao Cup win under the lights at Accrington Stanley’s WHAM Stadium on Tuesday.
Debate over the relative merits of a cup-run after last season’s Checkatrade (mis)adventure took a back seat as a winless start to the season demanded an immediate response.
Lynden Gooch will have been pleased to have the scoring burden lifted from his shoulders - before Tuesday he’d scored 100% of Sunderland’s goals since Luke O’Nien v South Shields on July 11th. Marc McNulty has impressed in both league games so far and opened the scoring with an assured finish following some quick thinking and a well timed pass from Chris Maguire.
After his sublime 4th minute top-corner strike in April the locals will already have been sick of the sight of Aiden McGeady and this was compounded on Tuesday as he bagged the second in style. A beautiful finish across the goalkeeper following a run which took him past defenders in a manner that looked so easy anyone could do it. Unfortunately for the rest of us it isn’t, in fact, that easy and instead another example of why McGeady is at times far too good for this level.
The third was a timely reminder of another potential solution to Sunderland’s scoring troubles as Charlie Wyke stuck home a close-range finish in his first appearance of the season. During his time on Wearside I’m sure he’ll be the first to admit his goal return has left a lot to be desired but Wyke is an intelligent and hard-working player. He will often be found in the right place at the right time - this is no accident even if it doesn’t always lead to a goal when it should. If his finishing improves, there’s no reason why he can’t be an integral part of a successful season on Wearside. Though not necessarily your traditional Big Lad Up Top, he does pose a different threat than that of the rest of the strikeforce.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Charlie on the birth of his first child just hours after that goal went in, and on his new and improved hair which I’m sure we can all agree looked fantastic.
Honourable mentions go to Alim Öztürk and WMS favourite Max Power who put in assured first starts of the season in a much-improved team performance. Stanley are a League One side and although unlikely to trouble the top half of the table they fielded a strong team and were tough opponents throughout.
Big question marks over a lack of full-back options and the form of the 4-million-pound man Will Grigg remain, but it would be churlish not to admit that some green shoots of positivity are starting to show after a tough start to the campaign.
A good result and something to be taken into what is already looking like a massive game on Saturday lunchtime against everyone’s second team - Portsmouth.