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Talking Points: Bradford - Man of the match Luke O’Nien is an absolute credit to Sunderland AFC

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In our post-Bradford edition of Talking Points we look at the finer aspects of Sunderland’s performance on Boxing Day - including why man-of-the-match Luke O’Nien is an absolute credit to the club.

Credit to the club
Sunderland AFC

Luke O’Nien - a credit to Sunderland AFC

Luke O’Nien was absolutely brilliant yesterday. Out of position at right back, he won everything he went for - every second ball, every header, every tackle. He was back on the line clearing it away when the keeper went wandering, he was bombing up and down the line to create space for McGeady to open Bradford up in front of him... it was just a perfect defensive performance from the man signed from Wycombe Wanderers in the summer.

He worked his knackers off for the team to ensure we got the three points - the type of performance you want to see from every single player, especially when there’s a big, expectant crowd in attendance.

After the game, many of the fans who were last out of the ground noted that O’Nien had brought a young supporter onto the pitch for a kick-about. I mean... what a memory for that bairn. Can you imagine being that old and a Sunderland player picking you out of the crowd to come onto the pitch and knock the footy around with them? It’s just amazing.

O’Nien didn’t stop there, though. He spent ages meeting fans around the pitch after the match for photos and autographs, giving away as much of his time as he could before he had to go back inside.

My friend’s young son went to his first game as a season card holder yesterday and O’Nien stopped for a photo and a chat, and offered him the chance too to go out onto the pitch. What a special moment - and now the lad is off to get O’Nien’s name on the back of his shirt.

Making memories, being the best possible example to kids that he can be and reminding us that not all footballers like to remove themselves from reality - O’Nien is clearly a very special character, and should be held up there as a role model to all young supporters looking for someone to idolise.

I don’t think that I’ve ever wanted a Sunderland player to ‘make it’ here as much as I want to see Luke O’Nien succeed. What an absolute credit to our football club he is.


Luck was on our side for once

Sunderland were pretty lucky in the sense that the officials were absolutely shocking yesterday.

Everyone in the ground bar the linesman and the referee could see that Bradford had scored a legitimate goal, and that the ball had crossed the line - luckily for us, things went our way for once and we got away with it, much to the relief of Jon McLaughlin who, uncharacteristically, made a pretty big error which led to the chance.

It’s not often we can say that though. How many times already this season have we been on the end of poor decisions from officials? I understand that Bradford fans feel aggrieved, but these things and cyclical - they’ll earn their luck back on another occasion soon, I’m sure.

I think it would have been harsh on us if Bradford had managed to claw a way back into the game as, whilst the scoreline would suggest the game was close, our opposition camped out on the edge of their own box for most of the 90 minutes and never really seemed interested in attacking us.

They didn’t come to go toe-to-toe with us and, sadly for them, they left with nothing.


McGeady deserves more praise

Aiden McGeady has been brilliant this season. Whilst his jinking runs and goals are what have impressed people the most, I think we need to be fair and recognise that other areas of his game are very good too.

Namely, his passing and the fact he always shows for the ball when someone is looking for an option. McGeady’s weight of pass is fantastic and I’d go as far to say that he’s the most skillful passer of the ball that we have in the team - whether its short or long, he always seems to find his man.

Other players in the team - perhaps the less experienced lads - need to look at McGeady as an example of how to play. Lynden Gooch is one of my favourite players, but sometimes I feel that he holds onto the ball too long at times, and he could do worse than to look at what McGeady does when there’s a passing option available, for instance.

To be truly influential as a creative player you must also do the less impressive, simple stuff to compliment your flair, and I think that McGeady has definitely done more of that this season in his role as our team’s most experienced leader.

McGeady scored again - but his all-round performance impressed me more
Sunderland AFC