Time To Move On From Sessegnon

Michael Regan

Something which has played on my mind all summer has come a head with another anonymous performance this weekend from the bastardization of Messi & Pele...

Let's get two things out the way before we go into things much further. First of all, I'm as big a fan of Stephane Sessegnon as anyone else. Secondly, I realise he's an easy target at the moment following a lackluster appearance against Fulham and supposedly a move to Qatar is nearing completion.

So taking into account the above, it might be considered that this is a bit of an odd piece to write, but it's more that it's something that's played on my mind all summer, with Fulham on Saturday merely the tipping point.

Midst all this rumour at the moment that a move to Qatari side El Jaish is nearing completion, it's my overriding feeling that it is time to move Sessegnon on for the betterment of the side overall.

Since his arrival in January 2011 three different managers have all extolled the skill and excitement which the Benin attacker brings to the side, and have tried desperately to find a space for him. All without any real success, and certainly without any consistency.

Even the man who brought him here, Steve Bruce, said at the time of signing him;

He can play on the left, on the right, through the middle - he's lightning quick and he's a match-winner.

All were tried, and whilst he did prove to be a match winner on occasions there were plenty other occasions where he simply couldn't be bothered to even turn up.

Playing off the striker, as he has for most of his Sunderland career, he's been a relative failure. The first season you can understand that there was some bedding in to be done as he arrived mid-season and went on to score three times in fourteen games.

The 2011-12 season was by far his highlight. It's even reflected in the stats that it's the high-point of his career whereby he scored more than any other single season, and provided more assists. For someone with his level of trickery, guile and power though, seven league goals and nine assists is still not the greatest for a player supposedly at his peak of 27-years old.

A brief flirtation with the wing proved to be quite successful for a short period before for some reason he was moved back to a central role in the side.

Once again though in the summer he was linked with moves away. Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur supposedly very keen to bring him to London. With him being a relatively private character the silence merely fueled the rumours.

He stayed though, and after another managerial change he was once again being played either through the middle as a support striker or as the main striker in times of crisis.

Perhaps there was too much pressure on him to succeed. This was alleviated somewhat with James McClean's one revelatory season (with hope for more which never came) along with the signings of Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher.

Even that couldn't really help him. Seven league goals once again but a noticeable drop off in assists which slumped to four.

Once again, managers have changed and Paolo Di Canio seems to have a lot of love for the striker-come-midfielder-come-do-what-he-wanter and has made it known that he doesn't want to lose him from the side.

He may not. Even part of me doesn't as there's still something in me that wants to see him become even more of a success, and lives for some of the magic he's produced such as down at Fulham last season, or Swansea at home. Not to mention getting the ball rolling in the 3-0 thumping of Newcastle.

While that's what the heart wants, the head overrules with the fact we've constantly struggled to find out what on Earth we're supposed to do with him. Changes of manager seem to have little impact, as has changes in strike partners and positions on the pitch.

Since his arrival as a relative unknown to people on these shores at least, for me, Sessegnon has been constantly shoe-horned into the side. Something shown in the fact he's rarely appeared as a substitute (only twice in fact) for us in the league, starting 83 other games.

It's understandable you'd want to play him, for what he MIGHT do, but that's all too rare. The majority of the time you don't know if his head's going to be in the game, if he's going to give up half way through or he's going to produce something incredible.

Can we really afford to in effect 'carry' someone like that? I don't think so.

It's clear that a new road-map has been laid out for the club to follow with Ellis Short entrusting Roberto De Fanti and Valentino Angeloni to find the players, with Di Canio in turn charged with little more than getting the absolute best from those.

If Sessegnon goes, the Italians at the top of the tree will have to work hard to find two, possibly three players to make up for his loss. Some might see that as a reason alone not to let him leave, but for me, I'd much rather have a proper winger, a proper support striker and a proper actual striker brought in. Sessegnon is merely a Jack of all these trades, and master of none.

Given our constant battles against relegation and the clubs vision to move us away from that with an entirely new way of working, there isn't room for people who can't do one thing very well. Everyone has a defined role. Fullbacks need to attack and overlap, wingers cut inside onto their better foot, central defenders be comfortable on the ball and so forth. With Sessegnon the ultimate in undefined roles, I'm of the opinion we should sell.

Flog him off to Qatar, take back our money and his hefty contract and reinvest elsewhere to positions of need and that will benefit us more through their consistency, as sooner or later keeping him will prove more costly than it's worth.

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