Cup magic over – now back to business
Sunderland’s run to the Capital One Cup Final was a magical one. The only thing perhaps more magical than that was the weekend itself, which - result apart - couldn’t be topped as far as things I’ve experienced in my lifetime of supporting the club.
March 5th, 2014
Perhaps the only thing which could have topped it though would have been bringing back the trophy to the North East.
With that game now firmly etched in the history books though, attentions have to turn fully back to Premier League survival. Achieving that remains no easy feat though.
With several games to be played in order to catch up and pull away from the pack at the bottom of the league, there’s a key element missing from the side – a goalscorer.
The transfer window has shut and Sunderland remain without anyone seemingly able to step up to the role which is so crucial to the way Gus Poyet sets us up.
We’ve proven we can be a handful for any side with creativity and battling performances in midfield, a pretty decent defence and a truly quality goalkeeper in the form of Vito Mannone. We do however still lack someone who can put the ball in the net with some consistency.
In the Capital One Cup Final, Fabio Borini joined the ranks of loanees who have written their name into Sunderland folklore with his opening goal of the game. It shouldn’t be overlooked though that the Italian international could have put the game out of sight later in the second half, only to fluff his lines when bearing down on goal.
Steven Fletcher fared no better as a late substitute by messing up an even more clear-cut chance seconds before Jesus Navas made the game 3-1 to the Citizens.
Recent signing Nacho Scocco remained on the bench while Jozy Altidore was not trusted for even the role of an unused substitute in what was the club’s biggest game for many a year.
So what will Sunderland do? Somebody of the four needs to step up and be the man, and the problem for Poyet is that he doesn’t know from one week to the next who it will be; effectively taking a 4/1 chance each week that the one he picks in the 4-3-3-come-4-5-1 formation will come good.
Borini is certainly the ‘hot-hand’ and deserves to be in the side at the moment, but we can’t afford to have too many more chances missed, which could ultimately prove costly.
Fletcher is a proven commodity and we know he can score, but this season has been a very poor one for him. Altidore has suffered all season with a lack of goals and lack of confidence. However unlike Fletcher, he doesn’t have a history of goals in England to back up any notion that he’ll get back in the groove any time soon.
As for Scocco, well we really don’t know yet. He could prove to be our wildcard in all this but I’d have major doubts at this stage.
One thing is for sure though, between the four of them, someone, anyone, is going to have to step up and come good in order for us to stay in the Premier League.