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Sunderland AFC Half-Season Report Cards: Part I

We're going through every player in the squad and dishing out some grades based on how they've done so far.
We're going through every player in the squad and dishing out some grades based on how they've done so far.

Well we did this last year, and it's time to do it again by dishing out some grades to every single player in the squad this season.

So today and tomorrow we'll be running through everyone who's got or had a squad number, talking about how they've done, what they can do better, or even just their potential and future plans if they've not played yet for the lads.

There's not much more to say on the matter really, the whole feature is pretty self-explanatory, so I'm not going to waste any more of your time waffling about it.

1. Craig Gordon

A nice easy one to start off with then! Well Craig hasn't actually done anything yet this season what with his persistent injury problems, and it goes without saying that he needs to get himself ship-shape one way or another sooner rather than later. Be it for Sunderland's good or his own, as his contract runs out in the summer, and if he wants a new one here or anywhere else he'll have to show something. Apparently he's quite close to a comeback, but with the good form of Kieren Westwood and the potential of Simon Mignolet, you have to wonder if time's up for Gordon. Grade: N/A

2. Phil Bardsley

Been highly disappointed with Bardsley this season. I realise he's not everyone's cup of tea, and not particularly mine either, but last season he was alright. This year it all seems to be going wrong. He's looked out-of-sorts when filling in at left-back, a position he did well in last season, and he's not going to get into right-back if the defence is fully fit. That's where he should be though, right-back or not at all, and the most likely destination the bench if it's a straight shootout between him and John O'Shea for the position. Also there's been some worrying moments where he's lost his head, look at the sending off against Newcastle United, or the stamp on Chelsea's Juan Mata. Phil will continue to get games, but he needs to start pulling his weight a bit more. Grade: D

3. Asamoah Gyan

He still is our player by definition, despite the loan to Al-Ain in the UAE, and the snippets that seem to suggest he's not too keen on coming back any time soon. We had such high hopes for Gyan headed into the season, but in the few games he did play prior to the move he was pretty awful. He looked sluggish, off the pace and slightly overweight before proceeding to miss a hat-full of chances which he'd have buried at the same time last season. He's gone, he's probably not coming back and we'll move on. Grade: F

4. Michael Turner

Earlier this season we here at Roker Report joked about Turners ability, or lack of it. However since his early struggles coming back into the team he seems to have rejuvenated slightly in something I'm calling "The Wes Brown Effect" where by whoever is alongside the former Manchester United man seems to become actually semi-decent. See Anton Ferdinand for an example of this. He's started to come good again after a disappointing run of form punctuated by injuries in 2011, so well done to him. I can see him and Brown being the starting partnership for the foreseeable future, when both are fit. Grade: C

5. Wes Brown

Creator of the afore mentioned effect, Brown's been pleasantly surprising me this season, especially with fitness as he's played in every single game, including the League Cup defeat against Brighton & Hove Albion. Barring that incident against Wigan Athletic, he's generally been very solid and dependable, and looks like a very astute signing. Delighted with his form, and long may it continue. Grade: B

6. Lee Cattermole

At Liverpool on the opening day, Cattermole seemed to be different. Pressing high up the pitch and generally making a nuisance of himself without getting into bother, I thought he'd turned the corner, all it turned out to be was a false dawn. The silly bookings have continued making him a liability to the team, whilst his off the field antics aren't anything to write home about either. Basically he's been completely overshadowed by David Vaughan and Jack Colback in the holding role, and even beyond them I'd be more tempted to chuck in Craig Gardner or David Meyler ahead of him. Barring something miraculous, Cattermole's time at the club, or at least as a regular feature, should be coming to an end. Grade: D

7. Sebastian Larsson

Superb so far this season, and easily one of, if not our leading player to date. It's refreshing to have someone genuinely dangerous from all manner of set-pieces. If you were to pick out one flaw, it would be he's picked up some silly bookings. Not in the way Cattermole does through stupidity, more the victim of some suspect refereeing. Regardless of that, he has been excellent, and scored some stunning goals. Couldn't be happier with his input so far. Grade: A

8. Craig Gardner

We've hardly seen much of the player we thought was the answer to our goal-scoring problems, which could well be telling. Steve Bruce seemed to like him a lot upon signing, but then never really gave him a chance in the first team. Perhaps that will change under Martin O'Neill, but it's worth remembering O'Neill did flog him to Birmingham City whilst at Villa. As for when he has played, it's been alright, but nothing to shout about. Seems slightly too eager to score too. I'm all for players having a pop at goal, but it would be fair to say he's done it on occasions when it wasn't necessary. I'd like to see him given a chance, but when or if that comes, nobody knows. Grade: C

9. Fraizer Campbell

Still yet to see anything from Campbell as his return seems to be taking quite some time. Without so much as a reserve team game to his name yet this season, it's difficult to judge. What can be said however is we wish him well and hope he does come back sharper than ever, as it could save us a pretty penny in January. Grade: N/A

10. Connor Wickham

Wrapped in cotton wool for an extended period under Steve Bruce, he instantly became a key player upon his full league debut at Bolton Wanderers. He provides us with a great presence up front, and once he's matured more and got more nose for the Premier League, he'll be integral to our play. You could say he's already at that stage, what with the way we've re-jigged the team in his absences, but the future does look very bright and you can see why he cost the price he did. Lots more to come and off to a solid start in red and white. Grade: B

11. Kieran Richardson

I'm certainly sick of seeing Richardson played all over the pitch, as for my money he's a left-back and should stay as such, however I think he should be applauded for how he's handled being moved around and how well he's done in each position. At left-back however, where he's played the most, he's done very well. He's showing a much improved defensive side to his game without sacrificing his attacking intent. I can certainly see the case for buying a left-back, but I'd persist with the impressive Richardson from here on out. Doing well, and it's good to see. Grade: B

12. Matt Kilgallon

He's only sat on the bench once, and many including myself at times may have forgotten he existed. Perhaps a new lease of life will come under O'Neill. It's not likely, but you never know. Not much more to say really. Grade N/A

14. Jack Colback

I've started to see opinion on Colback divided, but for me he's been a model of consistency. Always willing to put a foot in, get forward when needed and just keep things moving and simple in the middle. He doesn't really get assists, he doesn't get goals, but neither did the likes of Claude Makelele or Didier Deschamps. That's not what his game is. He's playing his own game, and holding his own in the Premier League. Great to see from the local lad. Grade: B

15. David Vaughan

Vaughan's quite similar to Colback, or maybe even the other way round, but what Vaughan provides, perhaps through experience, is a greater range of passing for me, and slightly more threat. Rarely wasting a pass, and running around all over the place getting his foot in (legally, take note Captain). Really impressed with his performances, and should be kept in the starting XI for rest of the season when fit. Would have liked to have seen him more to date, but blame that on the old management. Grade: B

16. John O'Shea

I think we all expected John O'Shea to be the rock of our defence, whilst Brown would be the occasionally fill-in. It seems to have been the other way round so far though. Whilst O'Shea has been alright so far, he seems yet to have a stand-out game where he's looked every inch the quality player we know he has been in the past. Solid, if massively unspectacular so far. Grade: C

17. Ji Dong-Won

Ji's quite clearly still aclimatising to the English football. Whilst he's shown in flashes what he does well, which is bringing others into play from a deep position. It's also good he's got a goal to his name already, even if it was a nothing goal against Chlesea to get that out the way and help settle him, but once he gets more adjusted he could be a decent player. For now though, this season so far, he's not really been at the races. He does however have reason, unlike others. Grade: D


And that's the first part out the way, we'll be back tomorrow with the rest of the squad. If you want to tell us just how wrong we are, feel free to leave a comment, or grab us on Twitter @RokerReport.

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