If anything was to sum up Jozy Altidore’s one-and-a-half year spell with Sunderland then it is the embarrassing moment when the United States forward failed to connect with the ball just yards away from an open goal against West Ham United last weekend.
The former Villarreal starlet has managed to register just one single goal in forty one appearances for the Black Cats since his move in the summer of 2013. Despite the reasonable quality of his build-up play this goalscoring record for a forward in the Premier League is simply unacceptable and is one of the reasons for Sunderland’s poor statistics as a team in front of goal.
People are all too quick to launch the age old ‘I told you so’ routine with regards to Altidore with many having seen the American struggle in his first spell in England with Hull City where he also only managed one goal in his season long spell at the club. Altidore then ended up with AZ Alkmaar in Holland following a brief loan spell in Turkey with Bursaspor.
This was a period of great rejuvenation for the New Jersey born forward with Altidore regaining his confidence and composure in front of goal scoring thirty eight Eredivisie goals in just two seasons. When Sunderland registered their interest in 2013, it came as little surprise to many and there was a genuine feeling that this was a totally different Altidore to the one whom had struggled with Hull City.
Every so often there are players who simply do not adapt to certain footballing cultures and it certainly seems as if Altidore and the English Premier League are never going to harmoniously co-exist. It is difficult to understand given Altidore’s hugely impressive physical attributes, theoretically he should be able to bully Premier League defences yet that is merely not the case.
Of course it must be mentioned that in his two spells in England’s top flight he has been stationed with teams fighting against relegation, but there is no excuse for such a poor goal return from an individual highly thought of during his formative years.
We get given glimpses of Altidore’s ability off the ball often as well as when watching him for the US National team however for whatever reason in the Premier League all elements of his game just fail to come together.
With Sunderland a club reliant of selling players before re-investing money into the playing squad it is likely Altidore will have to make way if Gus Poyet wants to inject goals into his forward line. Unsurprisingly there is interest in Altidore from both the Bundesliga and Eredivisie, you don’t become a poor footballer over night, rather sometimes you just cannot settle and adapt to one particular league.
Interestingly enough, the Premier League is widely considered the league within which you have to have the widest skill set to succeed. You cannot simply be successful by having great speed or great power you must also be technically proficient to a certain level dependent on your individual position.
This is not the case in other leagues, often players can get by with one outstanding attribute and perhaps this is why Altidore was so impressive in Holland, he has by no means been prolific in front of goal throughout his career to the levels of say a Michael Owen or a Thierry Henry but such a lowly contribution during his time at Sunderland is not a true representation of Altidore’s ability.
I feel a certain amount of sympathy for the 25-year-old, he has tried twice in the Premier League to succeed and neither chance has worked out. It is doubtful he will play in the Premier League again after his spell with Sunderland, however there is still a great opportunity at his current age for Altidore to find his comfort zone succeed in another league, and I for one hope he does.
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