[AMERICANS ABROAD]Despite just one Premier League goal and one League Cup goal in 31 appearances for Sunderland, Black Cats coach Gus Poyet is sticking with Jozy Altidore. Indeed, Poyet praised the U.S. striker for his "magnificent" game in the 3-0 Tyne-Wear derby win over Newcastle, while Altidore, for his part, acknowledged his loss of confidence.
“To be honest," Altidore told the Sunderland Echo on Tuesday, "it’s been tough for me, adjusting to the team and everything. I demand more of myself. I’m freezing up in front of goal lately and it’s difficult. The confidence or quick-thinking isn’t there. I’m over-thinking things a little bit. Guys like Adam [Johnson] and Fabio [Borini] are having to pick up the slack, which is great. That’s important and it shows they care about the team."
Sunderland is 7-1-1 in 2014 to jump from last place to a tie for 12th under Poyet, who replaced Italian Paolo Di Canio as manager early in the season. The Black Cats have also reached the final of the League Cup and are in the round of 16 of the FA Cup.
“It’s a totally different system under the new manager," Altidore told the Echo. “But I’m still getting chances, maybe not as many as I’d like, but I’m still getting them and freezing up. It’s something I’ll carry on working on in training because if I didn’t have the ability, it’d be one thing. But I know I have it.”
Altidore's current malaise in front of goal was summed up by the chance he missed against Newcastle when he broke in on goal but had Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul take the ball off his foot.
“Thinking about it now, I should have taken a touch and shot because he came out so quick,” Altidore said. “I’m over-thinking things at the moment, but guys are chipping in with goals. That takes the pressure off, but I would like to get back in the goals definitely.”
Poyet praised Altidore's unselfishness and emphasized how important his American is as the focal point of the attack.
"Jozy had a magnificent game at the weekend," Poyet told the Daily Mirror. "I was so sad that he didn't score that chance. They practically gave it to him! But I said to him in the dressing room, 'Now you know how important you are, and you can feel it.' If we keep winning, his goal is going to come. But his performance was one of the biggest and most important points for us.
"It's difficult, because I know strikers. I played with a lot of strikers who were top scorers, and when they didn't score for a while, they would not pass the ball to you -- they would shoot from anywhere because they wanted to score. He is not doing that, which is great and a credit to him. Somehow, we need to try to get him a goal. Maybe we need to beat the keeper and give it to him to tap in."