Tony Gillan: Sunderland need another striker - and fast!

Barnsley FC 3-1 Sunderland FC, Football League Championship, Oakwell 26th August 2018.  Picture by FRANK REID
Barnsley FC 3-1 Sunderland FC, Football League Championship, Oakwell 26th August 2018. Picture by FRANK REID
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On Saturday evening I participated in a discussion over what action should be taken in light of the afternoon’s debacle.

It wasn’t what you might call constructive. It was really just vengeful. Drop this one. Sell that one. Deport him. Have this one neutered because we don’t want his son playing for Sunderland either. And so on.

This represents the general level of debate in the Museum Vaults. On any subject.

But what better options are available? A win over Sheffield United on September 9 is desperately required.

Aside of atoning for the disgrace at Barnsley, Sunderland have not won at home, in league, cup or friendly, since December 17. Children not even conceived then are now sitting up and demanding lunch.

So what to do? They can start by signing another striker.

Easy said and no one is expecting a Kevin Phillips or Jermain Defoe. But someone respectable, similar to David Connolly, Stephen Elliott, Craig Russell or Phil Gray would suffice.

Failing that, they could desist with the medieval tactic of just diagonally trebucheting the ball up to James Vaughan.

The Championship is still a high level of football and this is meat and drink to defenders. This approach simply wastes possession. Ultimately, it is more productive to turn round and roll the ball back to the goalkeeper; at least then you keep the damn thing

“Lumping it” wouldn’t work if Peter Crouch was in the team – and Vaughan is only 5 feet 11. If attacks are to be centred around anyone in the current squad, it should be Lewis Grabban. He is the best striking option.

Fair enough, this isn’t an extravagant compliment to Grabban. It’s rather like heaping acclaim on someone for being the number one taxidermist in Witherwack.

Nevertheless, his talents should still be maximised by playing the ball to his feet and supporting him. Ditto Aiden McGeady.

Other suggestions include moving off the ball, tighter marking and players making themselves available for a pass: things so stupidly simple that I hesitate to even mention them.

All this is within the remit of management.

Things like gumption, concentration, hard work, professionalism, simply behaving like an adult and feeling the same pain as the fans are down to the players themselves.