It is now 9 games and almost 3 months since Stephane Sessegnon arrived from Paris Saint-Germain with great expectation and a £6m fee, and we all know how those 9 games and 3 months have gone. So is Sessegnon a cause of the disastrous form or just another victim?
First of all, is it even fair to be judging him at this early stage? Probably not, so we will not try and draw any conclusions here. But it certainly isn't to early to have a bit of a closer look at him and his contribution and have a discussion.
When looking at Sessegnon's time here so far, two things which appear intrinsically linked immediately stand out. He has been highly inconsistent and he has not been able to hold down a regular position in the team. Despite his limited number of games to date, he has already played as a right winger, a left winger, a striker, and an attacking central midfield player. Clearly, this is not a helpful scenario for a player already dealing with the difficulties of coming to a new country to ply his trade. Whether that is representative of bad management or whether Bruce's hand has been forced somewhat by the injury situation we will leave entirely up to you to decide.
But whilst he has been inconsistent, there has also been flashes of undeniable quality. He had a splendid match at the Britannia Stadium against Stoke, he rattled the bar at Goodison, and at Birmingham on Saturday he started to display a keen ability to find and exploit space between an opposition's defence and midfield.
Sessegnon has also offered some consistencies, although not all good. He has shown a consistently sublime first touch, which is usually the hallmark of a fine footballer. He has consistently shown a desire and aptitude for running at players with pace. Unfortunately, though, he has also been consistently unproductive. His assault on Tim Howard's cross bar at Everton was just about the only time he has threatened to trouble the match-reporters himself and it must be fair to suggest that he hasn't quite been the creative influence we were hoping he would be.
Ultimately, Sessegnon hasn't made the kind of impact we would have hoped for. The expectation may not have fair, but he hasn't come even remotely close to matching it. But he has definitely shown enough to be a source of encouragement. A lack of creativity and final product has not been a Sessegnon-specific problem which is surely indicative of wider-ranging issues. After all, primarily it is teams who are creative with movement, not necessarily players. Creative players need team mates in good positions to create opportunities for, and they have been a real rarity at Sunderland of late. Perhaps for now, all things considered, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. One for next season may be, and a player, one suspects, we would be unwise to be writing off quite yet.