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2015/2016 Player Ratings: Keepers & Defenders

With the season now over, we give ratings out of ten for each of Sunderland's players. First up are the goalkeepers and defenders that have featured for the lads this season.

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Costel Pantilimon - 5

'Bang average' is a term that was perhaps coined especially for Costel Pantilimon, and when Watford came in with a decent cash offer for his services I was more than happy that we decided to move him on. Costel is not the worst keeper in the world, not by a long shot, but his poor positioning - particularly at his near post - cost us so many goals in the first half of the season and I wasn't at all disappointed to see the back of him.

He's struggled to dislodge Huerelho Gomes from the Watford side, which says alot. Sam's decision to move on his number one in January was a wise one, particularly when you consider how well his replacement played in the final throws of the season.

Vito Mannone - 7

Readers of this site might know I'm not the biggest fan of Vito Mannone - I think his distribution is awful and that he lacks presence at set pieces - but I have to give credit where it's due. Vito Mannone, with a solid back four in front of him, has been one of the shining lights in our run towards the end of the season and he deserves respect for the points he won us in the game against Chelsea, when at 2-1 down he made two superb stops which gave us a path to go on and win the match.

For him personally it must have been a frustrating season, spending the first half of it sat on the bench whilst Costel Pantilimon bumbled his way through games, but I'm sure he wouldn't wish to change the way it ended, with the full South Stand singing his name loud and proud after the Everton and Chelsea wins.

Will he be our number one next season? Who knows. Sam certainly likes him as he always makes a point to give Vito credit in his interviews, but the future is Jordan Pickford and whether or not we decide to go with him as our number one going forward remains to be seen.

Jordan Pickford - 7

It's been a really remarkable season for Jordan Pickford and going on loan to Preston was the best decision he's likely ever made, establishing himself as not only the leading young goalkeeping talent in England but as a very capable and promising senior player.

When he was recalled early back in January from his loan, I was disappointed. I didn't really see the merit in pulling Jordan away from a place where he was developing and succeeding to sit on our bench, but in the three games he's played for the first team since returning he's looked very good. I have high hopes for him.

Steve Harper - 0

Impossible to grade him really. He hasn't kicked - or saved - a ball. I'm sure he's been a great presence around the training ground though, and his experience will have been a factor in Sam bringing him in on a short term deal. I'll be surprised if we extend his contract in the summer - perhaps it's time he moved into a coaching role. Lets wait and see.

Patrick Van Aanholt - 8

The turnaround in the fortunes of Patrick Van Aanholt have been quite remarkable - he's gone from being a laughing stock to a very capable attacking full back that can also defend, and it's all down to his working relationship with Sam Allardyce and his coaching staff.

In the first eight games of the season he was beyond awful, and when Sam took over the reins from Dick Advocaat he inherited a very raw player that perhaps didn't have the right mentality, and Patrick soon found himself out of the first team picture entirely, made to train with the kids and played only for the U21s side.

Upon his return to the side it was almost like a realisation struck him, and we instantly saw an improvement in him as a player. He scored a number of goals in January, and then towards the end of the season his defensive work was excellent, forming a fine partnership with Younes Kaboul on the left hand side of the back line.

I just hope he keeps it up. Patrick is a very good player but he has to work hard and listen to his manager, who is one of the finest defensive coaches in the country. He'd be an idiot not to take notice.

Tom Robson - 6

Though Robson featured only once for the first team this season he looked decent against Watford and, having signed a new contract, I'm expecting we'll see more of him in the future.

Lets not forget the great season that our U21s had - they pushed Manchester United right down to the wire for the title - and Robson was an almost permanent feature in that side.

DeAndre Yedlin - 7

Much like Patrick Van Aanholt, DeAndre looked utterly hopeless in the opening months of the season and he spent the majority of his time here on the bench. His time here seemed pointless and there were rumours that we would be sending DeAndre back to Tottenham in January but Big Sam held on to him, and within the following weeks he firmly established himself as our first choice right back.

One particular low was the Watford home game, where he was brought off after nineteen minutes after having his arse torn out too many times for Sam's liking. That said, he was part of a back four that couldn't stop keeping clean sheets towards the end of the season and even looked much improved going forward.

Though he wouldn't be my first choice signing at full back next season, I'd take him if the rumoured fee of two million pounds is correct. He'd be a decent back up option if nothing else.

Billy Jones - 3

Billy Jones isn't even a very good right back, so why we decided to play him at left back and in the middle as part of a back three at different parts of the season I'll never understand.

I guess I kind of feel sorry for him, because he was asked to play central defence on more than one occasion and absolutely bombed at it, particularly away at Everton when we conceded six goals.

He lost his place to DeAndre Yedlin and was never able to force his way back into the side - I suspect we might have seen the last of him. He's an honest enough trier but he's not quite good enough if we are going to push for a higher finish next season.

Adam Matthews - 0

Instantly forgettable. My only real memory of him playing for us was him falling over and conceding us a goal away at Toronto about ten seconds into the second half back in pre-season.

That pretty much sums up his time here, and he'll almost certainly be gone in the summer. He wasn't Advocaat's first choice when we signed him and even Celtic fans told us he wasn't very good - he had just lost his place in the Celtic side to Mikael Lustig, a player who hardly strikes you as quality.

A complete waste of two million pounds.

Seb Coates - 2

Speaking of wastes of money....

We signed him based off his performance away at Arsenal last season when really he was better off left alone. Physically he's everything you'd expect from a Premier League defender but his actual ability is lacking and it was an absolute joy when Sam Allardyce replaced him with Lamine Kone in January.

If we somehow manage to con Sporting Lisbon into paying actual money for him in the summer then we'll have done a good job.

Wes Brown - 3

Much like Harper, his role within the side was probably as more of an experienced face around the training ground than as a player last season. He was arguably our best player against Aston Villa in January, but he was only really in the squad just incase he was needed - January was a testing month in terms of injury, and Wes slotted in to cover for the absence of Younes Kaboul.

I'd be surprised if he carries on for another year. He's out of contract and should probably call it a day. Going forward, we need better players in the squad that can offer us more than what Brown does, unfortunately.

Younes Kaboul - 8

It was always a gamble signing Younes, mainly due to his fitness issues. He started the season completely off the pace and ended up injured, only returning to the side at the end of February after a lengthy spell out.

Sam managed to keep him fit though and since his return he has been absolutely superb, dislodging John O'Shea from the side and forming an unbelievable partnership with Lamine Kone. It's easy to forget he's only just turned thirty, and here's hoping he can carry his form and fitness into the new season. If he can, he will be an absolutely huge player under the stewardship of Sam Allardyce.

John O'Shea - 6

I don't mind John and think he sometimes gets unwarranted stick, but the signing of Lamine Kone and the resurgence of Younes Kaboul has perhaps highlighted his weaknesses, many of which we saw in the Watford game.

I'd keep him around next season but his role should be less like the one he's had this season, and more like the one Wes Brown has had for the last two years. If we need him, he's there, but he shouldn't be starting games. John turned 35 last month and he's not going to improve at this stage - Sunderland, however, should.

Lamine Kone - 9

Wow. His impact since signing has been remarkable, and without him we definitely would not have stayed up.

His introduction to the Sunderland supporters was halfing Yaya Toure, leaving him face down chewing grass. It has been a constant rise for Lamine ever since, establishing himself as a top quality defender whilst also proving himself as a huge goalscoring threat at the other end of the pitch.

He and Younes Kaboul are a match made in heaven. If we can sign another defender in the summer just like him, we'll be fine. Sam knows how to pick them.

Arguably, he has been our player of the year. The fans absolutely love him and he seems to be enjoying his time here, which is something we love to see as finding players - particularly from abroad - keen to be on Wearside is something that doesn't happen often.

Look out for part two on Sunday, where Rory Fallow will be rating Sunderland's midfielders and strikers. Do you agree with Gav's ratings? Give us your ratings in the comments below.