Jozy Altidore has admitted to suffering from a crisis of confidence this season after netting just one Premier League goal for Sunderland.
Altidore, 24, arrived at the Stadium of Light from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in the summer, having scored 31 goals in all competitions last season. Struggling to replicate that form on Wearside, the U.S. international admitted to having confidence issues as he adjusts to life in England.
"To be honest, it’s been tough for me, adjusting to the team and everything," he 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. 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. 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. 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 cited his one-on-one opportunity with Newcastle's Tim Krul in Sunderland's 3-0 derby win at the weekend, when he saw the ball snatched from his foot as he attempted to round the Magpies' goalkeeper midway through the second half, as proof that he is "over-thinking" at crucial moments.
"Thinking about it now, I should have taken a touch and shot because he came out so quick," he 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. I’m trying my best. 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."
Meanwhile manager Gus Poyet told the striker not to be concerned with his goal return this season, saying that he does not have to score to impress him.
"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."