Phil Parkinson must avoid the potential of making a “radical” decision over his Sunderland attack, having grown alarmed at the Black Cats’ low ratio of shots on target in League One this term.
Parkinson has challenged his Sunderland offence to step up and make their shots count, with the North East giants growing prone to wasting their chances in front of the net this season.
The Black Cats boss has addressed his side’s unwanted record ahead of facing Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, looking to avoid a third defeat of the campaign following last weekend’s 2-1 humbling at home to MK Dons.
The result left Sunderland outside of the Play-Off positions on goal difference to promotion rivals Portsmouth, but would have sat inside the top-two had they not struck five of their 13 efforts off target and seen three blocked against Russell Martin’s side.
Parkinson is pleased with the way Sunderland are attacking games to create a strong volume of chances, yet is growing conscious that they cannot persist in the same manner with top-scorer Charlie Wyke (4) the only striker to have scored with Danny Graham, Aiden O’Brien and Will Grigg all yet to get off the mark.
“It’s important that we don’t make radical changes for the sake of it, but the key part of our play that hasn’t hit the heights where it needs to be is the percentage of shots on target,” said Parkinson, via quotes by the Chronicle.
“To get to where we want to be, we know that has to improve and we have put a challenge to the lads this week in terms of telling them what we need to do and what we are going to do on the training ground to improve it.
“We went through all the stats with the lads this week, and in most of the categories you need to be at the top, we were there – shots against, clean sheets, crosses in the box, quality [of the] crosses, chances created, expected goals.
“But the one category that we fall short in is the percentage of our shots that are on target, and we rank 17th in that. Expected goals is not the most important thing, but it is still important because it tells you the quality of the chances you are creating, and we are at the top of the rankings in League One by that measure.”
While Parkinson is hoping he can avoid making any radical changes to his system, the Sunderland boss should be glad to see the Black Cats are ranking highly for expected goals despite their wayward shooting as it proves that the Stadium of Light natives are creating the right sort of chances compared to their rivals.
What Parkinson needs is to see his squad take those chances, with O’Brien at fault for missing the highest number of big chances (4) in League One by a Sunderland player this term, ahead of Graham (3), Wyke (2) and a group of five players all on one, per SofaScore.
Seeing Wyke (10), Josh Scowen (10), Chris Maguire (9) and O’Brien (8) direct fewer chances off target will also come as a great deal of relief, as Wyke is the only Black Cats player to have directed double-figure efforts on target (10) ahead of Lyndon Gooch (6) and Max Power (5) thus far.
If Sunderland can keep creating the same volume of chances they are currently averaging – 14.4 per game, the second-most behind Portsmouth (14.7) – then Parkinson will be able to avoid any radical decisions, providing they better their mere 4.3 efforts on target a game – the ninth-best record and less than relegation-threatened Oxford (4.4), per WhoScored.