Lynden Gooch is thriving in Jack Ross’ new attacking Sunderland system after being given licence to play further forward.
The forward admits he was playing too deep under previous managers but with a renewed focus on taking the game to the opposition, Gooch believes Sunderland have a new ‘ruthless’ streak to their game.
Gooch has been one of the star performers in pre-season with three goals to his name including a brace in the 6-0 thrashing of St Mirren last Saturday.
Friday night sees Sunderland complete their friendly programme away at Middlesbrough (KO 7.30pm) ahead of the League One opener against Charlton Athletic the following Saturday.
Josh Maja led the attack against St Mirren with support out wide from Gooch and Chris Maguire, with George Honeyman also given the freedom to push forward.
Academy product Gooch is relishing his role, the forward players given the freedom to roam across the front three.
“It’s massive that we win games and be ruthless and that’s exactly what we did on Saturday,” said Gooch.
“There was a lot of energy about us, winning the ball high up the pitch and just trying to be ruthless – scoring as many goals as we can is what we’ve been working on since day one. It’s coming through.
“In the first couple of games we were still getting used to new players and the system but I think it’s showed now the way the gaffer wants to play and it’s really suiting the players we have.
“The way we’re playing I’m staying really high up the pitch and getting the ball in dangerous areas.
“Under previous managers I’ve probably been playing too deep and we’ve been a lot more defensive. The way we’re playing has definitely suited me and I like playing out wide as well.
“I like playing along the front and I’m just happy trying to create opportunities and score as many goals as possible.”
Sunderland are aiming to bounce straight back to the Championship, with Gooch hoping they’ll do so in style.
Gooch added: “We’re allowed to move around as a front three and you could see it on Saturday.
“Sometimes Chris (Maguire) was down the middle, sometimes I was down the middle and Maj was out wide. You could see that fluidity around the team and I enjoy just getting on the ball in attacking positions rather than in our own half. That’s definitely suiting the way I play.
“We’ve worked on it in training, the way the gaffer wants us to play and stay high up the pitch but a lot of us have played together for a long time, like me, George (Honeyman) and Maj, so we understand a little bit the way each other wants to play.”
Last season was rather stop-start for Gooch, who is in the final year of his contract - but he is happy on Wearside and determined to play his part this year.
He added: “I just want to play games. I think that’s the biggest thing for me at my age, I need to be playing regularly. Last year I played more than the year before but just playing week-in, week-out is just massive for me and if I can do that I can be more consistent and make more of an impact on the team.”