Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Hotshot Would Have Had Cats Up

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Hotshot Would Have Had Cats Up

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

Sunderland do not have much cause for jealousy when they look at the clubs around them in the First Division. After all they sit in third place in the league, safe in the knowledge that three more points are all that is needed to book their place in the end-of-season play-offs and maintain the lofty ambition of an immediate return to the Premiership.

Despite last season's embarrassingly poor relegation from the top flight and the financial havoc which followed, Mick McCarthy has still been able to put together a squad which has not only challenged for promotion, but which also came close to reaching an FA Cup final and qualifying for Europe.

And, when it comes to the facilities at the club, nobody in the division is close to matching the excellence of the Stadium of Light on matchdays or the Academy of Light for matchday preparation.

Yet there is still one important thing missing from Sunderland's season, a crucial ingredient which has meant they have failed to reach optimum performance - and that is the lack of a consistent goalscorer.

Sunderland's top marksman this season is Marcus Stewart, with 14, closely followed by Kevin Kyle with 13. But, while both totals are commendable, neither have been able to provide the razor-sharp edge in front of goal that, over the course of the season, brings the goals which turn defeats into draws and draws into wins.

Indeed, had Sunderland had their main tormentor in the 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, Andy Johnson, or Cardiff's 21-goal Robert Earnshaw at their disposal, it would be they and not Norwich who sit at the top of the First Division tree.

The same could well be said of West Ham's Marlon Harewood, Preston's Ricardo Fuller or either of today's opponents, Wigan's, strike force of Nathan Ellington and Jason Roberts.

And while McCarthy would never dream of knocking his own forwards, you could sense a tinge of jealousy in his voice when he looked back at the Palace defeat and ahead at another tough looking trip to the JJB Stadium. …

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