Sunderland’s pre-season preparations for the upcoming 2021/22 campaign have been plagued with uncertainties.
First we saw uncertainty over the future of Lee Johnson himself after the Black Cats suffered play-off heartbreak at the hands of Lincoln City, before Kyril Louis-Drefus moved in to calm the rumour mill by stating that the former Bristol City man was the person they wanted to lead the club forwards.
Now the past few weeks have been filled up by speculation over the futures of a host of key players, with the likes of Charlie Wyke, Aiden McGeady and Luke O’Nien having yet to have committed to new contracts at the Stadium of Light.
Indeed it is the case of Wyke which naturally attracts the most interest from the media, with the Sunderland top scorer from the season just gone appearing set to depart.
As with the other aforementioned names, the 28-year-old’s contract expires come the end of this month and it appears that the North East side are close to conceding defeat in the battle to keep him at the club.
A recent update on the situation by The Northern Echo suggests that the striker has held a fresh round of talks with Celtic officials over a summer move to Glasgow, perhaps indicating that a move north of the border for the Middlesbrough born centre forward is almost a forgone conclusion.
But is it all doom and gloom if Sunderland lose their chief goal scorer?
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You have to look at the situation from both perspectives in order to fully appreciate where the club will be at once Wyke’s future is decided.
Replacing a player who scored the best part of 30 goals last season is no easy task and it will force the Black Cats to look for a ready made replacement for Wyke.
But on the flip side it could also change the way the club plays moving forwards, with there sure to be less of an emphasis on playing to just one player’s strengths, as has been seen in the campaign just gone as all routes led to the Sunderland front man.
Relying on one player to score your goals can be a dangerous game indeed and this development could well force the Black Cats to examine how they can get more goals out of their other attacking players in the future.
A situation that this could be likened too is Harry Kane’s at Tottenham Hotspur.
When he plays, he scores for fun, but when he is out of the team, Spurs adapt and play to the other strengths that they have in the squad, which shows that they have a plan B.
In short, with Wyke seemingly heading for the exit door, Johnson needs to find his plan B, as showing flexibility could be a blessing in disguise as Sunderland chase promotion from League One at the fourth attempt.