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Sunderland be warned: Championship strikers make bad back-ups

| 18.08.2016

Having shrewdly observed that he can’t always rely on a 33-year-old Jermain Defoe to score goals, David Moyes is looking to bring in some striking relief.

Nottingham Forest’s Britt Assombalonga is the reported target. The 23-year-old scored 15 times in 29 second-tier games for the Reds in 2014/15 before missing most of last season through injury. He also opened this term with a brace against Burton Albion.

Whether that return is good enough to make him a Premier League starter over one of the league’s historical best is extremely debatable.

And if the former Watford youth isn’t going to get regular exposure to the first team, then history suggests Sunderland won’t get much from a reported £7m outlay.

The below table shows how the 17 strikers signed from the second tier by Premier League sides in the last five seasons fared in their first top-flight campaign:

Championship-StrikersWith only two players capable of reaching double figures for their new clubs in the first year, it’s clear that Sunderland shouldn’t pin too much hope on Assombalonga taking his new league by storm should he arrive.

Such low returns are understandable considering the gulf in quality between the two divisions though.

Any striker arriving in the top flight, whether from overseas or further down the domestic ladder, needs time to adapt to a new pace and better defenders.

That much is evident in our list, as all of the top-scoring strikers had the benefit of regular playing time, allowing them to adjust to new surroundings.

There is little coincidence that Danny Graham topped the goals-scored category when he also comfortably logged the most minutes.

Similarly, Leonardo Ulloa registered well over 2400 minutes when he found the net 11 times for Leicester two seasons ago. Both Shane Long and Steve Morison, who round-off the top-four goal scorers in the group, received a similar amount of pitch time after their moves.

For many of the other strikers a role of super sub was carved out, with 11 of the 17 afforded less than 1000 minutes (which is around 11 full 90-minutes matches).

That change would be especially hard to adjust to considering most would have been the number-one options for their Championship clubs. Couple the staggered appearances with the improved opponents and it’s easy to see why few players have succeeded.

From a minutes-per-goal standing only one striker, Dwight Gayle, truly found his feet despite limited playing time.

His lone effort indicates that finding a striker in the Championship that is able to do the back-up job justice is extremely tough.

At Sunderland, Defoe is showing no signs of the decline that would warrant installing Assombalonga ahead of him.

On that basis it could be worth Moyes looking for other candidates to fill his striker void.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.



Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.