Who do you agree with?
This poll is closed
Matthew - We need to give Adam Matthews a new deal
Mark - Let’s sell now and improve the right back spot
Matty Crichton: Yes!
Having played just 126 minutes in his first 2 years at Sunderland, you would never have thought one day Adam Matthews would be our first choice right-back. Originally signed by Dick Advocaat for £2 million to play Premier League football, the Welshman is starting to show the form that saw him win four consecutive Scottish Premier League titles with Celtic.
Now by no means do I think Matthews has been outstanding this season, but I do believe he is a consistent 6/10 each week. The 26-year-old has featured in 11 of our 15 league games this season, contributing four assists - more than any other defender.
He has emerged as Jack Ross’ clear favourite at right-back ahead of the injury-plagued Donald Love, and has been part of a back four which has kept three consecutive clean sheets.
I think Matthews has the characteristics Jack Ross wants in his players; for example, his capability to play as an attacking wing back. He possesses the pace to get up and down the pitch as well as the ability on the ball to create chances - we all loved his outside of the foot assist for George Honeyman’s goal against Carlisle in the EFL Trophy, for example.
If we want to develop as a team playing the style of football Jack Ross wants, it is imperative we have full backs who can move forward and deliver the ball efficiently.
Admittedly, should we get promoted I think a right back should be bought, but in an ideal world you want two players competing for each position. Donald Love struggled at the beginning of the season, and was often targeted by forwards for being physically weak. As well as that, he has suffered with injuries throughout his tenure with Sunderland; I can see him becoming surplus to requirements once the season concludes.
Surely then, it would be a moronic decision to let the only performing right back at the club leave for nothing? With January approaching I think we should offer Matthews a new 2-year deal - mainly to avoid any other clubs trying to snap him up on the cheap.
I do not think, especially in today’s financial climate, that we should be replacing players who are performing just for the sake of it. Why take a gamble when you have a player who is already doing a good job?
Mark Carrick: No!
Whilst Matty is right that Adam Matthews is, at last, showing some signs of form, who pays £2 million for a League One full-back? Because that is, effectively, what we have done.
Matthews was nowhere near the side when he joined Sunderland in the Premier League. He started the opening game in 2015 as The Lads lost 4-2 to Leicester City, but that was about the highlight of his season. Injury ruled him out for six weeks, but he never looked like regaining his place from Billy Jones.
Billy Jones... I’ll just let that sink in.
Matthews was quickly loaned out to Bristol City, where he had a decent enough spell in a handful of games. Considering City finished 18th that season, the signs should have been obvious that Matthews was, at best, a lower Championship-quality defender.
City loaned him again for the 2016-17 season, but the spell was not hugely successful. Facing injury and some disciplinary issues, Matthews failed to recapture the form that had prompted the second loan spell. In total, Matthews appeared in 21 games over two years for Bristol City and just once for Sunderland.
He returned to Sunderland with a distinct lack of options following our relegation from the Premier League. He did OK last season; in truth, it was not the best Sunderland side to be in, but he made 34 league appearances for Simon Grayson and Chris Coleman.
However, that statistic simply shows he was a key member of the side that failed dismally in the Championship.
That brings us to this season, where Adam Matthews has arguably played his best football for Sunderland. But is he a player who will take us forward? His spells in the Championship for both Bristol City and Sunderland leave huge question marks over his ability to be effective at that level. If we are to realise our aim of promotion, I wouldn’t want to be relying on the Welshman next season.
This summer we brought in Tom Flanagan for nothing. Not a bean. And he has already shown he is a far better defender - not just with us, but also from his spell at Burton Albion in the Championship.
Whilst Flanagan is capable, we will need to improve our defence next season. And one position we need to improve is clearly at right back. Neither Donald Love nor Adam Matthews will be good enough to carry us into the 2019-20 season. If we are savvy, Matthews will be one name we are circulating in the next couple of months with the aim of moving him on, even for a small fee, come the January window.
Jack Ross really needs to target Championship-ready reinforcements in this window and the next. So, with Tom Flanagan able to cover both centre-half and right-back next year, I see no need to offer Adam Matthews a new contract.