Wise Men Say: Will Grigg, Aiden McGeady and Marc McNulty can fire Sunderland to promotion - but they need to start delivering
Following Tuesday’s 5 goal haul against Tranmere, I jokingly texted a mate saying I hoped that Sunderland hadn’t used up their goal total for the next month all in one game.
As the final whistle blew on a third goalless away game in a row for the Lads at Shrewsbury on Saturday, I started to wonder whether my lighthearted attempt at humour was an altogether more worrying premonition.
Even the briefest of glances at the table for goals scored in League One make uncomfortable reading for those of a Sunderland persuasion: an overall total of 21 scored so far in the league placing us in joint 7th position.
At the top of the pile is Peterborough with an outrageous total of 36 (although previous seasons suggest this is almost certainly unsustainable).
League leaders Ipswich have scored 24, as have Wycombe who join them at the summit on 30 points.
As we know, 7th is outside of the play-off spots and although the actual league table clearly isn’t constructed on goals scored alone; we are 8th in that.
The correlation between teams who score a lot of goals and those at the top is obvious.
Splitting the goals into home and away allows us to take this further. We rank a respectable 4th for home goals scored, indeed we’ve scored in every home game so far this season and have hit more than one goal on four occasions.
Away from the Stadium of Light however, there are, to put it mildly, problems. A total of 7 strikes on the road have Sunderland in 13th position, on the same total as MK Dons, Lincoln City and Accrington Stanley.
These numbers are unlikely to be enough to propel a team to the playoffs, never mind the automatic place a team with our budget and infrastructure should expect to occupy.
Saturday was the perfect example of what’s been going wrong for us this year, we created chances (although we hardly set the game alight) but a combination of bad luck (Maguire’s strike against the post really couldn’t have been hit much better) and poor finishing (pretty much every other chance was wasted) held us back.
Quite simply, we have to find a way to score more often, or we will not be getting promoted in May.
There have been signs of a move toward a more attacking mentality in Parkinson’s short reign so far, but as we at WMS have alluded to many times the nature of our predicament means that there is no honeymoon period, and the pressure is always on.
Sunderland fans have every right to expect better than a run of 3 away games in League One without a goal, and they absolutely have a right to expect their side to be at the very least challenging for automatic promotion.
Players of the pedigree of Grigg, McGeady and McNulty have the capability to fire this Sunderland side to where it needs to be.
They need to start delivering on a regular basis. Fast.