Gustavo Poyet standing by Jozy Altidore despite goal drought

Despite the USA international’s struggles, Jozy Altidore retains the backing of his Sunderland coach

Jozy Altidore
Jozy Altidore

Gustavo Poyet has re-stated his belief in Jozy Altidore, but hinted he might find himself in a straight fight with Steven Fletcher for a place at times this season.

The USA international’s only Sunderland goal came in a League Cup tie at home to Milton Keynes Dons.

Altidore’s only Premier League goal to date came in a 2009-10 loan spell at today’s opponents, Hull City.

Despite his struggles, Altidore retains the backing of his coach.

Poyet said: “I believe in Jozy for different reasons.

“One, because I have been with him for two weeks now, I’ve seen him training, how strong he is and how much he wants to score.

“He did absolutely antastic tactical work for us against Newcastle, which sometimes you don’t realise but it was important for the team in terms of shape and organisation.

“I would like to see him sometimes on his own up front – a proper, main striker. Not only with Fletch (Steven Fletcher), maybe in another game.

“I always say for a striker to score, especially with the characteristic of Jozy, he needs to have a quality of finishing but then we also need to provide and create. It’s not like you put him on the pitch and say, ‘Go on Jozy, score 20 this season’.

“We haven’t created enough chances for him to score goals yet this season. It is a 50-50 responsibility – the team and Jozy himself.

“I saw him this week and he looks happier. He is delighted with the win (over Newcastle United on Sunday) and that he played and felt important in the team. I don’t want to put any pressure on him against Hull but

I’m sure we will see a goal very soon and then everything will change I suppose. It’s about that confidence strikers need.”

Altidore was on the bench for Poyet’s first game in charge, a 4-0 defeat, as the Uruguayan opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation.

For his second Sunderland reverted to a 4-4-2 and celebrated their first league win this season, 2-1 over Newcastle. Yet Poyet has admitted his more direct tactics had a lot to do with the Magpies.

“It was a one-off game,” he said. “We cannot play every game like that. To play like that, it depends on two teams, it is not only us.

“It is very difficult if the opposition play a different pace, level, emotion, mentality. It was a proper derby.

“We need to make sure we play the best way for us – our pace, our way. Then, we will see how Hull play, which is something I do not know yet.

“When we start winning and I find the team I try not to change a lot.

“Yett every game is different and you can find something in the opposition which you are going to exploit.

“Against Newcastle we played with two strikers because we thought they had a problem in the centre-half position.

“It wasn’t because I woke up one day and thought ‘two strikers’. There is always a reason.

“Whether we won because of that I don’t know.”

Sunderland have only enjoyed consecutive victories once in 2013, after the last derby in April.

“That would be nice,” commented Poyet. “It’s key. There are teams who cannot do it for some reason but it is key when you can get a momentum and win games because you go out with a different mentality.

“The team of the season is Southampton and they go into their games now with a completely different mentality than they have had in the past few years. That gives them the feeling they are going to win every game.

“The team is showing that confidence on the pitch. For us, it will come if we win two or three wins in a row.”

Twenty-four hours after David Vaughan, Connor Wickham became the latest fringe player to leave Sunderland on loan.

The 19-year-old has joined Sheffield Wednesday, where he played six matches last season, until New Year’s Day. The Owls play Reading today.

Winger Adam Mitchell and defender Liam Marrs, both 20, have been loaned to Harrogate Town and Boston United respectively.

There will be a minute’s silence before today’s game as part of the Remembrance commemorations.

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