Most Americans will agree, Jozy Altidore’s second effort at the Premier League isn’t exactly going according to plan.
Since arriving at Sunderland this summer from Dutch club AZ for a fee of $9.6 million pounds, Altidore has gone scoreless in his first 10 Premier League matches.
It’s a run of form that is strangely reminiscent of Altidore’s first taste of the English top-flight back in 2009-10 when he scored merely one goal in 28 appearances while on loan with Hull City.
But it’s also a run of form that’s completely at odds with the American striker’s national team form, having scored eight goals in his last 10 games for the Stars & Stripes.
How to make sense of these polar opposite goal-hauls gel is perplexing. So is it time to panic at the Stadium of Light?
‘Absolutely not,’ is the response from Black Cats manager Gustavo Poyet.
“Sometimes it is hard — it is very easy to look at a player and say: ‘Oh, he doesn’t score goals.’ But sometimes you have to look at how you play, especially if that player has scored in other teams and not in yours.”
“In a situation like this, I always analyze myself when I used to play,” Poyet said. “What worked for me as a player? Well, I needed crosses, so the worst team I played in was my national team.
“In my national team in the years that I played, we were a team that played through the middle — we never played the ball out wide. No wingers. That meant we weren’t crossing and that meant I could not score. I was rubbish!
“So then people would be saying: ‘Why is it that he is scoring so many goals in Europe when he can’t score for the national team?’ And the answer was simple — different teams. The Uruguay team’s style did not suit my game and this is my point at Sunderland. We need to find a style and a system which plays to the strengths of our best players.
“If you don’t do that for Jozy, then it is going to be difficult for him to score and we will work on that.”
Poyet’s words make plenty of sense and the Uruguayan’s patience will undoubtedly endear him to the Yank faithful, who so desperately want to see their star striker produce at the highest level.
Despite his lack of goals, Altidore has performed well for Sunderland and seems to be striking up a nice partnership with Steven Fletcher.
If Poyet can manage to get Altidore service from wingers like Emanuele Giaccherini and Adam Johnson, one should expect the scoring tides to turn sooner rather than later.