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Player Of The Last Ten Years Poll, Round One: Craig Gordon Vs Steven Fletcher

Today's head to head see's that two recent heroes at the Stadium of Light go head to head. A goalscorer vs a goal-stopper. Who will have the last laugh though? Vote in the poll after you've read the arguments...

Michael Regan

Craig Gordon

Craig Gordon is often remembered on Wearside primarily for being an extremely expensive sicknote, however it shouldn't be forgotten that he was also a fantastic keeper; especially with regards to shot-stopping. Apart from Kevin Philips (for winning the European Golden Boot in 1999-2000), Craig Gordon became the only Sunderland player of recent times to win arguably global recognition for individual brilliance on a football pitch. This occurred when he was awarded the best save in Premier League history for his frankly impossibly ludicrous point blank stop against Zat Knight of Bolton during the 2010-2011 season.

This save was no mere one-off either, at one time such great footballing luminaries as Gigi Buffon and, um, Alex McLeish were tipping Gordon to be capable of becoming one of the world's greatest goalkeepers. Of course, this did not work out in the end as sadly Gordon has still not signed for another club since leaving Sunderland in May 2012, but this is down to his wretched luck with injuries rather than any lack of skill on his part.

Despite Craig Gordon not reaching the heights for which he at one pointed look capable of scaling, he stills remains one of the most naturally talented footballers to have plied their trade at Sunderland over the last ten years. Perhaps he is unlucky not just in his injuries, but also in the fact that the man who replaced him between the sticks at Sunderland, Simon Mignolet, was also an extremely talented goalkeeper; meaning that the Scotsman was essentially not missed when he did depart the club. Craig Gordon was an excellent keeper and had he had better luck with injuries might well be amongst the best in the game at the moment, regardless of this he remains one of the best players for Sunderland over the last ten years. (NH)

Steven Fletcher

Okay, so Craig Gordon made a good save once and was generally nice etc. Let's not rewrite history here - he was also a massive disappointment who never even came close to justifying his fee.

The same can't be said of Steven Fletcher. The former Wolves striker didn't come cheap but he has already repaid that fee by scoring the goals that kept the club's head above the waterline and allow us to gobble up our share of the new bumper TV contract.

If there has been a better one-touch finisher at Sunderland in the last 25 years, never mind 10, then I haven't seen him. The back heal flick against Reading. The top corner thunderbolt away at Wigan. The outside of the foot stab at home to Wigan. He finishes with precision, elegance, and a quiet, almost depreciating aplomb.

He isn't just a pure finisher, either. His movement is generally devilishly clever, his first touch neat and tidy, and his distribution efficient and accurate. He has even been known to bring out a little skill to turn a defender now and again. If he had a genuine turn of pace on him, he'd probably be playing for one of the elite clubs.

Steven Fletcher is, without any doubt, the closest thing to a complete striker we have had since Kevin Phillips left. His all-round game eclipses that of Darren Bent, and in a better side creating more chances there is no reason he can't add to his already fairly impressive goals tally in red and white.

At the end of the day, can we really afford to allow Steven Fletcher to bomb out of this competition at the first hurdle? Especially to a pretty average goalkeeper who was rarely fit and only occasionally exceptional?

This competition needs Steven Fletcher. Sunderland need Steven Fletcher. Us, as fans starved of seeing much attacking talent and goals for so long now NEED Steven Fletcher. Let's show it by voting him through.


Be sure to make your vote count and send one of these two through to the next round. Make your voice heard below, because you only have until 11pm (GMT) tonight to get your vote in...

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