Who Had A Poor Month?
Much like in December, January seemed to be jam-packed with games - and Sunderland endured a miserable month, winning none of the six fixtures that we fulfilled.
And of all the Sunderland players that have not played well enough in that time, Fabio Borini heads up the list. The Italian forward has featured in almost every minute of each game but has been largely awful and has not impressed at all, bar a decent spell against his former club Liverpool at the start of the month.
His fellow Italian, Vito Mannone, has similarly put in a number of adject displays in January, leaving very little to be desired. The expectation is that he will lose his place in the side once Jordan Pickford returns in the coming weeks - the England goalkeeper is expected to be back in the first team fold by the time we take on Everton at Goodison Park towards the end of the month.
It has also been a month to forget for Senegalese defender Papy Djilobodji, and it was compounded when he received a retrospective four-match ban for pushing Darren Fletcher in the face when we visited West Bromwich Albion towards the end of the month. Djilobodji will miss the entirety of February due to his actions, and will not be available for selection again until Manchester City visit the Stadium of Light on the 5th of March.
Who Had A Good Month?
Whilst his all-round performances have not been particularly great, Jermain Defoe still somehow managed three goals for Sunderland in the first month of 2017, the best of which came in the home defeat to Stoke when he latched on to a long ball before dispatching it neatly past Lee Grant.
It was also a good month to be academy product George Honeyman, who made his first starts for the first team in the games away at Burnley and away at West Brom. He was arguably Sunderland's man of the match in both games and whilst he lost his place in the side when we faced Spurs, he did enough to at least prove to the Sunderland manager that he still could have something to offer the first team between now and the end of the current campaign.
And The Winner Is...
As per usual, we put the four best players in a poll and gave our Twitter followers an hour to decide the winner - and it was a lot closer than usual, which is perhaps an indicator of just how poor we generally were throughout the month.
January was a pretty naff month, but we still have to crown a player of the month. REGISTER YOUR VOTE NOW! Voting closes at 3pm. #SAFC— Roker Report (@RokerReport) February 1, 2017
Didier Ndong edged past Jermain Defoe and George Honeyman with thirty-six percent of the total votes, and it's hard to argue otherwise.
He was absolutely fantastic against Liverpool at the Stadium of Light at the start of January but unfortunately had to depart the North East to take part in the African Cup of Nations in his home country of Gabon, leaving a huge french fries-shaped void in the centre of our midfield.
His omission was felt as Sunderland failed to register a single decent midfield performance before Ndong returned to the side for the game against Tottenham on Tuesday, where he showed everyone what we have been missing with yet another superb display against tough opposition.
His work ethic, ball retention and energy is completely underrated and if Sunderland are to stand any chance of surviving relegation again this season we will need the Gabon international to put in a similar level of performance in each and every game that we have between now and May.