The challenge facing £19million Sunderland and Manchester United talent

Following a few promising cameos from the substitutes bench, Sunderland fans had already come up with a new chant for Amad Diallo ahead of their meeting with Blackpool.

The Manchester United loanee was handed his first Black Cats start during the goalless draw at the Stadium of Light, tasked with leading the line in the absence of Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms.

Amad’s night lasted just under an hour as he was replaced by Jewison Bennette in the 58th minute, with Tony Mowbray rotating his forward line in the second half.

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Yet it could have been very different for Amad if he had converted a promising first-half opportunity, when he tried to take the ball around Blackpool defender Marvin Ekpiteta inside the box rather than going for goal.

Amad Diallo playing for Sunderland against Blackpool. Picture by FRANK REID

"We need Amad to shoot more," said Mowbray after the match. "At the moment he wants to score that perfect goal.”

There were other occasions where the 20-year-old took a heavy touch or ran into trouble on a sodden pitch at the Stadium of Light, as shown by three out of eight successful dribbles according to Wyscout.

Still, this is a player who United paid Atalanta a reported £19million fee for in 2021, and clearly there is ability there.

At 5 ft 8, Amad obviously has different attributes compared to Stewart and Simms, and a look at the player’s attempted passes (figure one) shows he was regularly trying to drop deep to get on the ball.

Figure One: Amad's attempted passes vs Blackpool.

When he did receive possession, the Ivory Coast international was involved in some neat build-up play, completing 20 out of his 22 attempted passes, while distributing some probing balls to the flanks for Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts.

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Yet, as shown by figure two, Amad’s movement sometimes left a lack of presence up front, meaning Blackpool’s defenders didn’t have to worry about runs in behind.

With Stewart and Simms set to be sidelined for the foreseeable future, Sunderland will have to persist with their forward line, with Amad likely to play a key part.

Mowbray will be looking for ways to both develop and get the best out of the player’s exciting but raw game.

Figure Two: Amad drops deep to receive possession (Wyscout).