Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
Forwards live off goals, and goals have been hard to come by this season for Jozy Altidore.
The Sunderland forward’s struggles this season have been well documented, scoring just two goals in all competitions and seeing the manager who signed him at the English Premier League club get sacked after just five games.
While he’s received the backing of his current manager, Gus Poyet, and his play on and off the ball has improved considerably in the past few weeks, Altidore admitted that he is low on confidence at the moment.
“To be honest, it’s been tough for me, adjusting to the team and everything,” Altidore told the Sunderland Echo. “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.”
Altidore credited teammates Fabio Borini and Adam Johnson, who have chipped in from their midfield roles to score crucial goals for Sunderland to take them out of the relegation zone.
Sunderland have amazingly won four games in a row, including a 2-1 victory in penalty kicks against Manchester United at Old Trafford to send them to Wembley Stadium for the League Cup final.
“Guys like Adam (Johnson) and Fabio (Borini) are having to pick up the slack which is great,” Altidore said. “That’s important and it shows they care about the team. We need that because down the road, we need as many scorers as possible to get points.”
“It’s a totally different system under the new manager,” Altidore added. “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.”
Even though it’s his second time playing in the EPL, Altidore admits that it’s been tough to get the Dutch soccer mentality out of his system. The problem is that, since moving to Holland, Altidore has flourished as an all around forward, one not just with speed and brute strength but also technical skills.
In the Tyne-Wear derby match between Sunderland and Newcastle, Altidore played a beautiful back-heel flick that lead to the Black Cat’s second goal in their 3-0 victory.
“I’m trying my best,” Altidore said. “The one thing I’m learning more and more, even though I was in the Premier League before, is that English football is all about desire and fighting. “That’s one thing which is different because in Holland, the whole team is designed to play for you, to look for you always.
“In England, it’s not so much like that. You have guys like Phil Bardsley who can take a shot from distance or guys who can score on their own. You have to get used to helping the team in other ways and I’m getting used to doing that.”
What do you think of Altidore’s interview? Think he’s shown improvement in recent matches? Still have hope that he can have a big World Cup, or still worried about his lack of goals?
Share your thoughts below.