Roker Report's Player Of The Month: Alfred N'Diaye

Scott Heavey

The season comes to an end and as things transpired, because we included parts of April and May in this Player Of The "Month" it's the entire Di Canio regime so far. So let's see who's up and down, and who the winners and losers are...

And so for the final time this season we crown a player of the month. Curiously, this 'month' as we call it since it encompasses all of April and the final bits of May, is the entire Paolo Di Canio regime so far, so it's interesting to see which players went up over the month and which went down.

This month's winner is Simon Mign... no wait! Not again for our Belgian 'keeper, it's our January arrival Alfred N'Diaye who takes the honour after a series of fine performances.

The lanky Frenchman stood out in games against Newcastle and Everton whilst also putting in top notch performances against Southampton and Stoke City, despite the results.

Let's hear how the rest of Team Roker Report rated his month and if he was a worthy winner or not...

Michael Graham: There hasn't been a huge amount of stuff to be happy about over the last month, but the development of Alfred N'Diaye is one of them. The French behemoth has really stepped up to the plate and started to look like a genuine bargain with some powerhouse displays in the middle of the park. I think he needs to develop a little bit more of a nasty streak, though. He has played every second under Di Canio and not received a booking, so there is enough discipline in his game to form a safety net for a more aggressive attitude. That said, considering his age and the circumstances into which he has arrived, he deserves enormous credit for his efforts in the closing month of the season.

Craig Clark: When Alfred N'Diaye arrived at Sunderland in January, he looked to be exactly what was missing from our physically weak, unimposing midfield. The giant midfielder put in a string of decent performances after signing from Bursaspor, but has really peaked in the last month or so and has now definitely found his feet at this level. He starred in our vital wins over Newcastle and Everton - effectively nullifying the always dangerous Fellaini - and as such played an integral role in securing our Premier League place for next season. Not only has been player of the month, he has given plenty of reason for optimism; with a preseason behind him, he could go on to be even better at the beginning of the next campaign.

Luke Bowley: I have a confession to make. I wasn't initially convinced by N'Diaye. A superb debut performance against Wigan aside, I didn't really know what he offered the team. Sure he could run from deep and get up the pitch, but his passing and shooting were so poor that he didn't do anything when he got there. I have since been proven to be very, very wrong about him. Since Di Canio's arrival, he's been an absolute rock in the middle of the park, adding the strength we've lacked all season. His display against Everton was vital to winning that game, and he was one of the few bright sparks in the truly awful games against Villa, Stoke and Southampton.

Already loved by the fans for his cool, steely displays, it's clear N'Diaye will go on to be a cult hero at Sunderland. One day, he'll score a 30 yard screamer, and it will be glorious...

David Boyle: From an unknown Frenchman to a midfield monolith in the space of just a few short months, N'Diaye has been one of the very few plus points of this torrid season and at times it has been a joy to watch him blossom before our very eyes.

Whilst obviously not short of the physical atttibutes to make an impact in the maelstrom that can be the Premier League midfield, Alfie has also proven on occasion to have the technical ability to back it up.

Surging runs forward, particuarly into the channels, an underestimated eye for a pass and of course the invaluable ability to break up the play in a similar style to a sledgehammer to a vienetta, N'Diaye looks to be a real prospect.

Yes he's still a little raw around the edges and naive at times but he is bloody good fun to watch.

Karl Jones: One of few plus-points this season, Alfred N'Diaye's arrival threatened to put an end to Sunderland being a 'walkover' in midfield. Admittedly, there has still been occasions where his presence has been unable to prevent such a feat, but he has also been instrumental in Paolo Di Canio arresting the freefall that Sunderland were in 2013. When you consider Di Canio's fitness level requirements and N'Diaye's current athleticism, it is difficult not to get excited about what next season may hold in store for the Frenchman.

Chris Weatherspoon: Alfred N'Diaye wasn't much known when he arrived in January, but after just a few games there were already a number of people lining up to brand him a failure. "Clumsy" came the calls, as the Frenchman endured a relatively quiet start to Premier League life when compared to a certain Moussa Sissoko from up the road. Yet, prognostications are often made rather hastily on Wearside.

In recent weeks, under the guidance of Paolo Di Canio, who has encouraging a greater emphasis on progressive football, N'Diaye has shone. In amongst a shower of mediocrity, N'Diaye's willingness to run into wide channels and seek risky - but rewarding - through balls has been a breath of fresh air. Add that to his undoubted strength, both in character and physicality, and it appears that Sunderland have at least one thing to be thankful to Martin O'Neill for in 2013.

And here's the table for how the rest got on...

Player Average Score
02/04/13 To 20/05/13
Differential From
Previous Month
Season Total
Alfred N'Diaye 7.85 +1.6 109
Stephane Sessegnon 7.75 +1.35 251
Danny Rose 7.33 +1.67 192
Jack Colback 7.0 +2.0 244
John O'Shea 6.85 +1.65 221
Simon Mignolet 6.57 -0.03 269
Adam Johnson 6.42 +1.02 240
Seb Larsson 6.0 +1.2 241
Carlos Cuellar 6.0 +1.0 169
Connor Wickham 6.0 +0.5 87
Matt Kilgallon 6.0 N/A 35
Kader Mangane 6.0 N/A 12
Danny Graham 5.66 +1.06 69
Phil Bardsley 5.4 N/A 109
David Vaughan 5.16 +0.83 158
James McClean 5.14 +0.14 246
Mikael Mandron 4.5 N/A 9
Billy Knott 4.0 N/A 4
Adam Mitchell 4.0 N/A 4
Craig Gardner 2.33 -3.67 214

It's great to see performances up almost across the board, with great months for N'Diaye, Sessegnon and Rose while John O'Shea and Jack Colback also improved their standings from the dying embers of the O'Neill era. For Craig Gardner though, this is one of the worst we've ever had in this feature and he'll have to seriously buck up his ideas if he's to remain with the club beyond the summer.

On Friday we have our Player Of The SEASON too. So be sure to come back for that.

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