Vito Mannone: C -
Vito Mannone hasn't had a good time of it since the infamous Southampton game that seems like so many moons ago. He conceded 16 goals in 3 games and hasn't looked the same since. Granted, Jordan Pickford has had his life, but we'll talk about that shortly. The fact is that even had we not had a world class goalkeeper waiting in the wings I doubt Mannone's decline would have been any less apparent. It's a crying shame because he's pulled off some stunning saves between the sticks for Sunderland and was rightly respected by the majority of fans, but whatever that was seems to be gone now. I doubt we'll see him in the Championship - I'm sure he will move to greener pastures.
Michael Simões Domingues: E
Don't recognise the name? That's because 'Mika' has never really played any role at all for us since arriving for a pittance on a two year contract. He has not participated in an official game for us, spending time with the U-23’s and giving very little weight to the case that he should be at the club at all. Scored an own goal if I remember rightly.
The difference between Mika and most of the other temporary dross served up to us by Moyes as a response to a situation he had no chance of fixing, is that due to all of the above he is pretty much unsellable; he holds no value to us or any other team. This means that we may actually be forced to rely on him between the sticks in the coming campaign, finances being what they are, and whether that's a good idea or not is rather moot really because circumstances may actually force our hand. Here's to a forgettable season for the man and hopefully a marginally brighter future.
Jordan Pickford: A+
This lad is worthy of an article to himself. Everything about the young man screams Sunderland, aside from his inherent ability and the respect from the footballing world that is. Any team would take your hand off to cement Jordan as number one and like Jordan Henderson before him he will go on to make us a lot of money that we won't ever necessarily reinvest properly. His goalkeeping ability is only one of the crucial assets he brings to the pitch, his grasp of commanding the back line is way beyond his years, his distribution is accurate to a fractional margin, and he has the reflexes of a feline. The more I write about him the more I wrestle with overwhelming sorrow that we won't see him play for us again.
Lee Cattermole: C
This time five months ago we had this to say about Cattermole:
When Lee Cattermole is fully fit he is an absolutely massive asset to our football club but, sadly, he's played just one full game in the Premier League this season and has spent the majority of this term on the treatment table.
The only difference now is that Cattermole has played nine games this season, collecting yellow cards in four of them. Lee Cattermole, I believe, is best utilised in a successful team. His unique brand of aggression and limited ability can be very useful tools to control the atmosphere of a game, but Sunderland are not that team. There is a real danger with reliance on players like Lee to dictate the outcome of a game, something which has cost us goals on more than one occasion. People will say he belongs here but I wonder if that's not a blueprint we want to move increasingly further away from if we're to develop as a team.
Darron Gibson: E -
Gibson was brought in because he knows David Moyes, and Moyes is a fool. The only standout quality of this man is that seven times out of ten he is capable of a pass with pinpoint accuracy. The reality is he doesn't move - he's like a mannequin with a wage packet. This was always going to be the case, it was spoken of at length by Everton fans before Moyes brought him back under his shrivelled wing to Everton Oldboys SAFC. I can see no reason to continue paying in to Gibson’s retirement nest egg, and if there was any justice in the world we'd be able to sue him for our money back.
Lynden Gooch: B -
The young man with hands down the most embarrassing surname an American can get is also possessed of a fiery temper that endears me to him. Unlike our resident volcano Cattermole, Lynden Gooch presents with an obvious, if raw, talent as a midfielder. He has the same doggedness attributed to most of our Academy products, but can hold his own in the man's game with ease.
Steven Pienaar: E
Similarly to Gibson, Steven Pienaar's most notable attribute is his passing ability. The biggest problem with Pienaar for me is that you can see how he was once a handful and how he could contribute to decisive team play and attack. The trouble is that you can also see why he isn't known for that anymore - his displays are lacklustre and he tends to buzz around the middle more like an annoying gnat than any real threat. He cannot hold the ball and he cannot be expected to fulfil the duties of his role. Another waste of wages.
Wahbi Khazri: C -
Back in December when we gave our mid-season ratings, we wrote this:
Quite what has happened/is going on with Wahbi Khazri is a mystery to all of us, although it's probably safe to suspect that he's had a falling out with the manager. The only half decent showing from him thus far was against West Brom at home - in fairness, his form has clearly been affected by his lack of playing time.
This is accurate to this day. We still have no idea what happened between Khazri and Moyes, though hopefully some light will be shed on that in the days to come. When he was allowed back into the fold by the manager in the dying light of the season he brought with him some excitement and some possibility. He is clearly a talented player with no small amount of skill on the ball, but his restriction to bit parts took away from any chance of fulfilling his potential. When he was given more than ten minutes in a game he looked like the player we purchased back in January of 2016 and we looked capable of actually attacking the opponent. Fact is that he's one of few saleable assets we have and so the chances of a love affair rekindled are slim at best. A player wasted on Moyes.
Jack Rodwell: D -
Jack Rodwell is the ultimate 'meh' player - I've no idea what he's supposed to be good at. He started pretty much every game between August and the end of October and since leaving the side due to an injury, we've won four games. It's probably not a coincidence.
Didier Ndong: A
Didier Ndong had a slightly shaky start to life in a season-long, Premier League relegation fight. We all wondered who this young foreigner with a very basic grasp of the English language and his McDonalds french fries hair was. But over time, and with uncharacteristic patience from the manager, he has come on in leaps and bounds to be one of our most consistent and reliable players. While it seemed an unusually large fee for such an unknown quantity, irrespective of the payment plan, the decision was clearly very informed. Ndong brings a lot to the table – he can tackle hard, he has a frame that belies his strength and he has a knack for holding on to the ball and digging it out of the feet of players he loses it to. He has been let down by some terrible passing decisions, but it's certainly worth noting that he more often than not has the best passing statistics of the entire squad. He's given an unfair deal by some fans that simply can't see his quality but he'll be a strong team player moving forward. Very pleased with this lad.
Jan Kirchhoff: E -
A disappointing start to the season was compounded by an incredibly lengthy injury lay off. When he did come back we were all left wondering 'who is this German gentleman bumbling his way through U-23 matches?' Honestly, it's incredible the speed at which a player’s stock can go down, and Jan Kirchoff is a prime example. He clearly lost his head and his understanding of the game we were trying to play, though much of that could possibly be laid at the feet of Moyes. Perhaps he didn't rate him? He didn't play for Everton after all.
It's another shame to see Kirchoff become so very meaningless and leave with such little fanfare; Allardyce had the recipe for whatever fuel drove Jan and so the best memories of this gentleman are far in the past.
Paddy McNair: E -
Injured. Constantly. Stood out for a brief moment when he used his face to score an own goal on his debut, since then he had a few half-decent games before succumbing to a season-ending knee injury. Presumably this was part of Moyes's grand plan, one which will never see come to fruition. Perhaps the lack of funds and increased match count in the Championship will work to reveal a player under there somewhere, but I hold out little hope of that.
George Honeyman: B -
George Honeyman has only participated in five Premier League matches for Sunderland but is already a well respected youngster with plenty of opportunity ahead of him. Again, as is typical of the Academy group, he brings a determination and pace to the squad that's been sorely lacking for some years now. There's a real strength of industry in his style of play and he works tirelessly on the pitch. As time goes by he'll only go on to become stronger and more capable in the man's game and we'll be looking to him to take to the Championship like a fish in water. A bright prospect.
Sebastian Larsson: D
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah Seb. Where did it all go wrong with Seb? Never a flash player he nonetheless had some endearing qualities. At one time an exemplary taker of free kicks, the urgency about his play and the frantic manner in which he seemed to be desperate to impose his will on his team mates was exemplified with the age old tactic of pointing and screaming. All things that are now forgotten, other than the pointing and screaming of course.
I honestly couldn't tell you what Sebastian Larsson’s purpose on the field is. Used in a myriad of positions as the Davey Moyes Circus entertained young and old, he never stood out in a single one for anything other than his inability to have an impact on the game. Bar a few free kicks and the odd contribution to a rare, successful attack, he really has excelled at being simply there. Smouldering Nordic blues aside, we can't afford to keep this gentleman around. He brings nothing to the team.