An update has emerged on Sunderland and how they went about their business on deadline day of the summer transfer window…
Black Cats boss Tony Mowbray has confirmed that the club did not attempt to sign a centre-forward on deadline day to cover Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms.
The former is now set to be out of action for up to 12 weeks due to an injury and that leaves the manager with one natural striker for the next few months.
When asked if a number nine was a target on the final day of the window, Mowbray told The Chronicle: “Not really. One was a pretty flexible, defensive midfield player, who could cover Corry Evans’ position for us and also play out in the full-back area, and one might have been a defensive player.
“But there wasn’t anybody who was, in my mind, a stick-on centre forward. I think that’s why Ellis Simms has been brought in, to do that.”
Kristjaan Speakman opted against bringing a natural striker in to bolster the squad and Mowbray is now paying the price for that decision on the pitch.
Sunderland played all of their matches in the Championship in August with two strikers in their formation, with Simms and Stewart leading the line for Alex Neil before his departure.
The injury to the latter has now left the current manager with one available striker for the next three months, which leaves the club in a precarious position.
Firstly, it has forced Mowbray to change the formation. He had to switch it up to a 3-4-2-1 instead of a 3-4-1-2 because of the injury to Stewart and that led to a disappointing performance away to Middlesbrough in a 1-0 defeat earlier this month.
Simms struggled up front on his own as he lost a whopping 14 of his 16 individual duels, failed all four of his attempted dribbles, and only completed 57% of his passes, as per SofaScore.
This could be a sign of things to come as the on-loan Everton striker may not be able to thrive without his strike partner, after scoring three goals in six games as part of Sunderland’s dynamic duo up front prior to the injury.
Not only does the decision not to sign a striker potentially impact Simms’ performances on the pitch but it also leaves him without any cover on the bench. This means that one injury to him would result in Mowbray not having a single natural option in that area of the pitch.
Banking on the Englishman to be fit for every game over the next three months seems like a gamble by the club and could backfire on the manager if he ends up dropping points because of a lack of cutting edge in the final third.
Therefore, not bringing in suitable cover for Simms and Stewart on deadline day was a big blunder by Speakman as it has left Mowbray with one available striker for 12 weeks and forced a change of formation that has the potential to impact their results on the pitch – given the defeat to Middlesbrough.