January Strategy


Despite the owners being confident he’ll stay, our leading scorer yet to sign a new deal, so some are worrying about the possibility he wants to consider his options. Despite the goals he’s scored there seems to be an uncomfortable minority of Sunderland fans still not happy with Maja. I don’t get it. He’s 19 years of age and is by far and away our leading scorer. Admittedly, from the perspective of Jack Ross and his coaching staff to Maja himself, there are aspects of his game that need improvement. But his finishing is excellent and certainly elite at League 1 level. It’s not just his finishing though, it’s the movement and touches he takes to get into the most dangerous positions for a quality scoring opportunity. A player of that ilk is an invaluable commodity at any level of world football. His frame will fill out; he’ll get stronger and a little more streetwise over the next couple of seasons. His heading is certainly an area that could and should be improved on in the short term. Looking at the best strikers in the world right now, how many were the ‘finished article’ at 19?


It’s no secret his wages are way, way above the level we can afford. His departure would not only allow us the freedom to bring in one or two new players but would help balancing the books going forward. He puts a decent shift in for us despite having the ability to perform at a level or two above where he is now. Perhaps more importantly, Reece James has looked more and more dependable at left back as the season has gone on. When you throw in the performances of Denver Hume, the departure of Oviedo seems a necessity given financial fair play and balancing the books.


I’m split between a big commanding centre half and good quality cover for Matthews at right back. With Flanagan being generally thought of as capable at right back, I’ll go with the centre-half. I like the experience of Loovens but his lack of pace is a concern. I do think Ozturk can do a fair job in League 1 but he’s never going to be first, or second choice. Flanagan and Baldwin, as good as they’ve been overall, lack a physical edge for me. The big and strong lad who can dominate aerially might just be a nice complement to the squad in a League where teams seem to regularly target us with high balls into the box on a regular basis.