Why Sunderland need to get the best out of new man Will Grigg
While Sunderland did lose top scorer Josh Maja to Bordeaux over the winter transfer window, the Black Cats signed Will Grigg from Wigan Athletic and brought in Tottenham star Kazaiah Sterling on loan.
While the 20-year-old on-loan Tottenham striker is expected to come good for manager Jack Ross, all eyes will be on former Wigan Athletic star Will Grigg. 120 goals in 345 appearances is a decent total for any forward and for Sunderland, it’s someone they need to get the best out of.
Because if Will Grigg showed us one thing during his spell at Wigan Athletic, it’s that he can score goals and score them consistently. The 27-year-old striker found the net a remarkable 65 times in 150 appearances, which comes to around 2.3 games per goal. This includes his 25 goals in 2016/17 season, where Grigg finished as the League One’s top scorer.
While things haven’t been the same since then, with Will Grigg struggling to find the net this season in the Championship, he could easily end up being a great move for Sunderland.
The 27-year-old is a different style of player as compared to Josh Maja, but at the same time, he is a definite upgrade on the former Sunderland starlet. While manager Jack Ross will have to adjust his tactics a little to fit the poacher into his team, it’s something that is worth doing.
If nothing else, Ross needs to build his attack around Griggs and if the striker does find his touch, then he could singlehandedly lead them into the Championship. The Black Cats chased after their man desperately, making eight bids before finally getting Wigan Athletic to accept their final offer, but if he fails to make an impact, the blame will fall partly on the club.
However, Grigg has shown in the past that he’s more than willing to work as hard as he needs to make sure that he has a place in the starting XI. While he will immediately slot into Jack Ross’ line-up, with the likes of Charlie Wyks and makeshift striker Duncan Watmore injured at the moment.
However, with the pace of Kazaiah Sterling next to him, Ross should look to create a formation that can help Griggs rediscover his mojo. Otherwise, it will be like flushing £4million down the drain and watch a rather good striker waste away his talent in a formation that doesn’t play to his strengths.
(PS: This article was written before Sunderland’s 1-1 draw vs Oxford United)
5 one-season wonders in the Premier League and what happened to them eventually
5 one-season wonders in the Premier League and what happened to them eventually
When we talk about prolific goalscorers in the Premier League, the names of Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez, Didier Drogba, Alan Shearer and more recently, Mo Salah and Harry Kane come to our mind.
All the aforementioned players have inducted themselves into the history books, be it for the most number of goals scored in a particular season or for their consistency levels in front of goal.
We have seen over the years that football is a funny old game, not only because it is full of drama, emotions, twists and turns, but the ebbs and tides in the careers of various players; the decline of a generation of stars and the simultaneous rise of a new generation also keeps the fans interested in the beautiful game.
Well, no matter how talented you are, consistency is one of the key traits that separate the best from the rest quite often, not only in the Premier League but anywhere in the world for that matter.
Over the years, we have seen that those who manage to sustain their impressive goalscoring form for a considerable period of time end up carving out a big reputation for themselves in football.
However, as unforgiving as the beautiful game can sometimes be to the erratic and inconsistent performers, players often tend to fade into obscurity following a promising start to their career and are hardly recognised by the fans years after their retirement.
They do not earn a place amongst the all-time greats in football but it would be fair to say that they hold a special place in our hearts, nonetheless.
Let us take a look at 5 one-season wonders in the Premier League in recent times and what eventually happened to them.
1. Saido Berahino – 14 goals (2014-15)
The West Brom academy graduate burst on to the scene as a talented youngster back in the 2013-14 season, scoring a hat-trick against Newport County, as well as the winner against Man United at Old Trafford.
However, it was the 2014-15 campaign where he rose to prominence and netted a staggering 20 goals in 45 appearances across all competitions, including 14 in the Premier League.
The former England U-21 star bagged the Players’ Player of the Year award at the end of the 2014-15 season for his stellar run of form but his career has gone totally off track ever since.
Berahino netted 4 goals in 31 appearances for the Baggies in the Premier League in the following season before joining Stoke City in January 2017.
The Burundian international stayed with the Potters even after their relegation from the top-flight but he was never really able to replicate that sort of blistering form.
A poor strike rate of 5 goals in 56 games and various other reasons saw Stoke City terminate Berahino’s contract in 2019.
Now 25, he is without a club, and a career that started with such a lot of promise is on the brink of fading into obscurity, although he still has time on his side to go on and fulfil his promise.
2. Michu – 18 goals (2012-13)
A wonderful 2011-12 season in the La Liga which yielded 15 goals for Rayo Vallecano earned Michu a coveted move to the Premier League with Swansea City back in the summer of 2012.
The Spaniard was an instant hit at the Wales-based club and got off to an incredible start to his Premier League career, eventually finishing the campaign with 18 goals. Michu’s heroics helped Swansea City to not only win the League Cup but also secure Europa League qualification.
Well, what followed after that is history and the fans wouldn’t like to recall his dramatic fall in English football. Michu earned a call-up to Spain’s national team but his career went into an absolute freefall after that and the playmaking forward was never able to rediscover his mojo.
He scored only twice in the Premier League in the following season and was shipped out on loan to Napoli in the summer of 2014 before eventually being released from the club towards the end of 2015.
Thereafter, Michu had a stint at Spanish lower division club UP Langreo and subsequently moved on to his boyhood club Real Oviedo, of which he is now the technical secretary after hanging up his boots at the age of 31.
3. Asamoah Gyan – 10 goals (2010-11)
Sunderland apparently bagged a massive coup in the summer of 2010 by snapping up one of the stars of Ghana’s 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign, as the Black Cats brought in Asamoah Gyan from French club Rennes.
And the Ghanaian showed in his debut season in England what an influential presence he can be up front.
Gyan netted a brace in a 2-0 victory over Stoke City in his first Premier League start and followed it up with an equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Spurs.
The Ghanaian also made a key contribution in Sunderland’s 3-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and finished the season with 11 goals in all competitions.
However, he was on the move once again in the following summer, with an offer from UAE club Al Ain proving too tempting for him to resist.
Gyan went on to establish himself as a prolific goalscorer in the Middle East before having a spell in China with Shanghai SIPG. He returned to European football with Kayserispor in 2017 and currently plies his trade in the Turkish top-flight.
4. Amr Zaki – 10 goals (2008-09)
The towering 6ft 1in Egyptian centre-forward took the Premier League by storm during his loan spell at Wigan Athletic in the 2009-10 season and his short stay in England proved to be a memorable one.
The bulky striker bulldozed his way to as many as 5 goals in 6 games and earned plenty of plaudits for his stunning volley against Liverpool at Anfield.
However, his indisciplined and unprofessional approach prompted Wigan not to make his loan deal from Zamalek permanent and the Egyptian’s career went into a downward spiral after that.
Zaki returned to the Premier League on loan at Hull City but failed to find the net even once, whilst mediocre spells at Elagizspor, ENPPI, Raja Casablanca, Al-Salmiya and Al-Ahed didn’t enhance his reputation whatsoever.
Faced with the prospect of being without a club upon his release from El Mokawloon, Zaki retired from professional football in 2015.
5. Roque Santa-Cruz -19 goals (2007-08)
The towering 6ft 4in Paraguayan centre-forward became a marquee signing for Blackburn Rovers when he made his move to Ewood Park from Bayern Munich back in the summer of 2007.
Presented with the No.9 shirt, Santa-Cruz scored 19 goals in his debut season in the Premier League and in doing so, helped Blackburn to a 7th-place finish in the league.
The Paraguayan finished as the fourth top-scorer in the Premier League in the 2007-08 campaign but he caught cold feet after that and never really hit the same heights.
A tally of just 4 goals in the 2008-09 campaign didn’t prevent him from earning a move to Man City, however, he managed to find the net only thrice in 19 appearances for the Citizens in the 2009-10 season.
Santa-Cruz resurrected his career with decent spells in the La Liga with Real Betis and Malaga before returning to South America to join Mexican champions Cruz Azul in 2014.
Now 37, Roque Santa-Cruz is very much at the twilight of his career and a near-forgotten figure in football, plying his trade in the Paraguayan top-flight with Olimpia Asuncion.
Watch out Celtic – Rangers’ pursuit of this 26-year-old star would add a new dimension to Gerrard’s midfield
Rangers FC Opinion: Why the Gers should swoop in for Dylan McGeouch?
According to the Northern Echo, Rangers are interested in signing Sunderland star Dylan McGeouch in the summer transfer window. Blackburn Rovers, Aberdeen, Brentford and Queens Park Rangers are also keen on the midfielder.
Dylan McGeouch, 26, joined Sunderland in the summer of 2018 after leaving Hibernian at the end of the 2017-18 campaign. He signed a one-year contract with the Black Cats in the summer of 2018, which means the Scotsman is a free agent this summer, and Rangers will not have to pay any transfer fee to sign the 26-year-old.
The Gers finished second in the Scottish Premiership this season as Neil Lennon guided Celtic to an eighth-consecutive league title. Steven Gerrard had a good debut season at the Ibrox, but he will be counting on his team to push Celtic all the way for the title next term.
Gerrard has already signed three new players and there is a belief that there could be more incomings at Rangers this summer. Rangers faded away after the mid-season winter break, which perhaps suggests they need to have more depth to the squad to genuinely challenge Celtic for the title.
The Gers have a plethora of options in midfield but they lacked the energy and bite in the second half of the 2018/19 campaign. Glen Kamara made a telling impact at the Ibrox after signing from Dundee in the January transfer window. His emergence made midfielder Lassana Coulibaly almost redundant at the club and Gerrard would be wise not to make the Malian’s loan move from Angers permanent.
Instead, the Rangers boss should add McGeouch to the squad in a bid to provide a spark of creativity in the middle of the park. The Sunderland move didn’t work out quite how he’d liked, with lack of form and tough competition limiting him to just 22 appearances in the Ligue 1. The Scotsman has shown his quality previously, however, especially during his time with Hibernian.
McGeouch has the versatility to play in different positions across the midfield. His potential acquisition could see him competing with the likes of Glen Kamara, Steven Davis, Scott Arfield and Ryan Jack in the middle of the park, whilst adding more depth to the squad which will be required next season at Rangers to end Celtic’s dominance.
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The Scotsman is a talented midfielder, who has a good passing range, composure on the ball, work ethic and a touch of flair to carve open opposition defences. Having previously been on the books of arch-rivals, Celtic, McGeouch would have a real point to prove at Ibrox.
Despite a difficult season with Sunderland, a budget free transfer move makes McGeouch an attractive signing for Rangers. All in all, the 26-year-old could prove a really smart addition for Gerrard.
West Brom appointing this 42-year-old Scotsman as the new manager might be a gamble but the move would work wonders
West Brom Opinion: Baggies linked with Jack Ross- A calculated risk?
The Baggies are currently managed by James Shan following the dismissal of Darren Moore but they have been unable to regain consistency under their interim manager. West Brom have lost some pretty straightforward fixtures against the likes of Millwall and Bristol City in recent weeks and it looks highly unlikely that Shan is going to be at the helm of affairs beyond the current season.
Preston North End’s Alex Neil was one of the front-runners for the permanent job but the Scotsman has poured cold water on those speculations by signing a new three-year deal at his current club. (H/t BBC)
Interestingly, West Brom have set their sights on another Scotsman in the form of Jack Ross to take the club forward. The 42-year-old took charge at Sunderland last summer and has managed to steady the ship at the Stadium of Lights following back-to-back relegations.
The Black Cats currently find themselves just one point adrift of Barnsley for the second automatic promotion place in League One and there is every chance that Ross might be in the Championship next season.
It would be fair to say that Ross has emerged as the savior for Sunderland, taking charge at a time when the Black Cats had hit an all-time low in their history and transforming their fortunes.
He has rekindled hope at the club that was in a downward spiral just a season back and the Scotsman has proven that he is a manager with plenty of acumen and character who has all the parts to make it to the highest level.
While the West Brom fans might be divided in their opinion on hearing about Ross, a move to the Hawthorns would be a massive leap in the 42-year-old’s managerial career.
Ross had a mediocre playing career in Scotland but he rose to prominence as a manager at St.Mirren, guiding the club to a promotion-winning campaign in the Scottish Premiership in the 2017-18 season, which was considered by many to be a massive achievement.
Ross’s feat of charisma and intelligence earned him the 2017-18 PFA Scotland Manager of the Year award.
Well, Ross has excelled in the Scottish Championship and in the League One in England, but the main question is- Has he proven himself enough to take charge of a club that is challenging for promotion to the Premier League?
The gap between League One and Championship is quite big both in terms of quality and intensity and given that West Brom would eventually aim to challenge for promotion to the Premier League and survive in the top flight, looking at Ross as a long-term solution might be a risky proposition.
However, it would be unfair to write him off completely as there have been instances of managers who have made the step up from the League One to the Championship and eventually to the Premier League, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe being amongst those to have climbed up the pyramid in recent times.
Ross has shown plenty of promise very early in his managerial career and he certainly deserves a chance to prove himself at the highest level. Moreover, he knows how to get the best out of his players and his man management skills are also upto the mark.
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To conclude, it might be a bit of a gamble for West Brom to appoint Ross as the manager but it could bring with it a lot of rewards as well, considering that the Scotsman has done his reputation no harm at Sunderland.
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