perfect deal' Sunderland boss Gus Poyet struck to grab Jermain Defoe in exchange for Jozy Altidore has had a couple of months to take root, we can go to the math and see just how much of a 'different club' they've blossomed into... ahem.
Just to remind, the Black Cats scored one goal every 66.8 minutes when the US striker was on the field in Premier League play, or 1.34 goals per 90 minutes of action with Altidore. They were even considerably more "prolific" if we include cup play minutes, but we will stayed settled on the Prem from this angle.
After Defoe scored a couple of goals in his first four games, those who will not see danced around my Sunderland math to further proclaim Altidore the poorest excuse ever for a player and the team was now free to shine and so on. Since then, Defoe has gone six games without a goal and the Sunderland game on the ball has regressed even further from the curious shambles of the Jozy era.
In eight league games since the swap, Sunderland are 1-4-3, with but five goals scored (or 0.63 per 90 minutes). They have scored just once in the last 588 minutes of play, and that strike did not come from any of their forwards. Speaking of Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham, they have combined for all of one goal in those eight games (and none in the three cup games over this span).
In those eight games, Sunderland created five chances or fewer four times. They managed 76 shot attempts, with 29 of them coming from at least 24 (and up to nearly 40) yards from goal. The tactically clueless or unwilling midfielders and wingers have failed to bust 45% possession in four of those games, making it no surprise that the teams leading assist man this season is a newcomer left back that has missed 10 games to injury. No surprise, either, that he (Patrick van Aanholt) is Dutch... but I digress from that artery of discussion.
Across all competitions, the Black Cats have been shut out six times in 11 games - including home games against Fulham, QPR and Aston Villa. They were also shut out at League One Bradford City after having bumbled their way to the FA Cup sweet 16. The forward stable has barely even looked like scoring since January ended. Poyet actually positioned Fletcher out wide in a live game, because apparently that counted as a solution idea.
Hell, the manager managed to enact a system that has worked to generously grant savior Defoe (who, mind you, spent years upon years scoring once every 196 minutes of EPL play before arriving at Sunderland)) a whopping sum of 21.5 non-defensive touches per game. And Defoe has created only two chances for teammates in eight games. Altidore did that once every 77 minutes of EPL time. The American also easily wins the aerial comparison (4.73 air duel wins per 90 minutes to Defoe's 0.13). You may say, gosh, that is a dumb comparison, but Poyet has often used Defoe as the No. 9 lone striker.
Oh, they are a different club alright. There is dumb, and then there is dumberer.
It sure looks as though Toronto FC and MLS swindled Sunderland harder than I had originally estimated. While so many want to believe that Altidore was the main problem with
Sunderland, the statistical needle sure leans toward my consistent view
that his tenure there was more a case of Sunderland being the main
problem with Altidore.
Meanwhile, Poyet was fiiiiiiinally axed this week and the Black Cats are reportedly in talks with Dutch guy Dick Advocaat. Will wonders never cease?
- Greg Seltzer