From The Durham Times: More Heroes Than Just Cattermole, McClean & O'Neill

Stephane Sessegnon - Good.

Here's another of them bits we do for The Durham Times. You know, the top notch local newspaper where we have a column every Friday.

In fact you can buy it for just 30p every Friday from most newsagents around the North East, or read the paper online http://www.thedurhamtimes.com/ ... either way, it's top quality stuff.

Anyway we have a bit in there rambling on about SAFC each week, and looking at the rota for doing the columns, it's my turn. I'll apologise now for what is essentially 900+ words of saying "Sessegnon's quite good". I dunno, basically I was sick of reading "Things are different under O'Neill"... yes, they are, we get it.

But, there's other stuff there too. I'll let you make your own minds up...

We'd been beaten despite having the majority of the clear-cut chances, ruing some wasteful finishing, Phil Bardsley was almost certainly at fault for the goal which turned out to be the winner, and there'd been injuries yet again. It was infuriating, yet not quite as familiar as the scene suggests.

This was my Sunday morning, as I flicked on a (shockingly edited) repeat of Match Of The Day, not just any Sunday from the last few months of Steve Bruce's tenure, and with the infuriation of defeat, there was also reasons to be positive.

1-0 down at Chelsea, especially with the goal coming so early in the game, you'd have expected us to roll over and just take our beating, but for large parts, and I don't just say thing through red and white tinged glasses, we were the better team.

When the post-match email filtered through from "Martin O'Neill" saying there were positives to take form the game and we'll move on to next week against Swansea, I found myself actually believing it.

For me, there were two players at Stamford Bridge who rose above everyone else on the pitch, and both were unfortunate to be on the losing side, both of whom cost in transfer fees less than what John Terry makes in a year.

Stephane Sessegnon's continually was a thorn in the side of Chelsea, and at the heart of anything and everything positive for us. People, including myself, have been quick to sing the praises of players, who've turned things around under O'Neill. Lee Cattermole is an obvious example of this, but there's also the likes of Sessegnon cutting the mustard too.

We all know he's a prodigious talent, we've seen it first-hand towards the back end of the 2010/11 season, and whilst he flashed at times this season, notably from the wing, there was still inconsistency in his play. Since O'Neill's arrival, and seemingly installing him as an out-and-out front-man (something only tried by Bruce when absolutely necessary) he's had his best month to two-month spell since joining from Paris St. Germain.

You can only hope that he's still slipping under the radar of larger teams, as they try to work out the also impressive James McClean.

The other player however is not McClean, although we've given him his fair share of praise recently. It's Lee Cattermole's midfield partner, David Vaughan, who has been catching my eye of late.

We all expected Vaughan to impress following a free transfer from Blackpool in the summer, and whilst he picked up the fans' Player Of The Season award, he was to most neutrals still in the sizeable shadow of Charlie Adam.

Now is his time in the spotlight, and he certainly seems to be taking it. Whist at Bloomfield Road he did the ‘Donkey Work' for Adam to take the glory, it's now Cattermole doing the same work, allowing Vaughan to spray passes about at will, not to mention his ferocious left-foot which has scored some absolute belters this season. It's a welcoming sight, and Vaughan seems to be relishing the spotlight.

On our own Podcast this week, Michael Graham, who you'll have seen on these very pages, thought that perhaps Gardner was a better option than Vaughan. Citing that Gardner goes a lot of good work off the ball, creating space, making runs and wotnot. I completely see his point, and it's a good one, but for me he's not what we need in there. With Cattermole buzzing around, the wingers playing very wide and pinging them in at first opportunity, we need a possession midfielder, and for my money, Vaughan is one of the best around at the moment.

Whilst the likes of the previously mentioned Cattermole and McClean are playing beyond expectation, those playing to their expected best should also be praised in my view.

As the visit of Swansea City lurks on the horizon, there's one player nowhere near his best. I don't think anyway, I'm still not sure about the riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma that is Nicklas Bendtner.

Upon arriving, I was delighted. I always felt he had something to prove, and that Arsenal fans had unfairly written him off as a jumped up so-and-so with ideas above his station, although sadly it seems as though they were right all along.

Following an impressive first few games at the club, it's been all downhill since then for the Dane, and to be honest, with Connor Wickham just about fully fit, I'd imagine Martin O'Neill is ready to let the 18-year old run wild at defences.

With a fully fit squad, I know that's slightly wishful thinking but hear me out, I'd have Bendtner as no more than a last fling of the dice substitute as his attitude and application have been nothing short of shocking, and hopefully O'Neill doesn't suffer fools gladly.

The Swansea game tomorrow should be a very tough test for us. I've been impressed with Swansea, and they look like they're going to be around for next season too. It's perhaps that they remind me a little of ourselves. They've got a system and an identity, and they stick to it no matter what. They pass it around, almost to death, where as we counter-attack.

It should make for an intriguing match-up, and one I'm very much looking forward to. The "Party With Marty" hit the buffers (very) slightly this week, but I'm confident it's full steam ahead, starting with a victory over our Welsh brethren.

--------------------------

Please buy The Durham Times from your local shop in the future for only 30p, keep local newspapers in business etc, they're key to covering clubs such as our own.

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