New Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson has issued a message of support to striker Will Grigg following his penalty shoot-out miss in the Black Cats’ Carabao Cup exit to Oxford on Tuesday night.
Parkinson sympathised with Grigg after his penalty miss but has noted that the striker does need to find some conviction in his game in weeks to come.
Grigg, who was Sunderland’s third penalty taker in the shoot-out, blazed his effort high over the crossbar to give Oxford the advantage.
After Oxford scored all four of their penalties, Marc McNulty saw his effort saved as the hosts progressed with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win.
Speaking of Grigg’s penalty miss, Parkinson told the Sunderland Echo: “Yeah [brave to step up], but the worst scenario is that you make the keeper work, he’s not the first one to miss a penalty but we are frustrated that he didn’t make the keeper work at the very least.”
Parkinson acknowledged that Grigg will re-find his scoring touch and continued by saying: “The supporters are right behind him as well, have given him terrific support and he’s got to believe and play with a bit more conviction, it’s got to come from within as well.”
Reiterating his faith in the Northern Irishman, Parkinson said: “We know he’s a terrific player, he’s got all the attributes we need and he will start showing it.”
Grigg has featured in all four of Parkinson’s games as Sunderland boss, scoring one goal in the 5-0 thrashing of Tranmere Rovers.
It is likely Grigg will feature against Southend United on Saturday and should Sunderland put in a similar performance to the one against Tranmere he could find himself on the score sheet again, sooner rather than later.
Grigg certainly isn’t the first or last player to miss in a penalty shoot-out but it’s the nature of his strike that has disappointed Parkinson and probably himself.
Parkinson, known for his man-management, is right to offer the constructive criticism to the player but also reiterate that he has the talent to turn his season around.
By showing this faith, Parkinson will no doubt keep Grigg’s confidence up with the striker looking to put Tuesday’s penalty miss behind him as soon as possible.
He certainly has the talent to perform at this level having scored 19 goals for Wigan Athletic when they won the League One title in the 2017-2018 season.
If Grigg can put Tuesday behind him and find the conviction Parkinson is longing for he could be on for a similar tally with Sunderland this term.