January - The Month That Was...
Ah, January. Sunderland’s tendency to be utterly dreadful throughout the opening month of the year continued in a familiar fashion in 2018, with Chris Coleman’s side registering just the one victory and FOUR defeats from five games played.
We’ve scored on only one occasion in that time - in our 1-0 home victory over Hull City - managed to lose our only two senior strikers because they hated being here (though, in fairness, James Vaughan was utter shit), suffered the embarrassment of having our highest paid player going public in an attempt to save face after being shown for what he is by Chris Coleman, missed out on just about every single one of our top transfer targets, got knocked out of the FA Cup with consummate ease by f*cking Middlesbrough, played Barnsley and Cardiff back into form and have resided for the entirety of the month in the relegation zone of the Championship.
Grim? You betcha, boy.
Still, it’s over now, and we can (hopefully) look ahead to better times - that’s all in the past, and with a raft of new players arriving on Wearside in the final days of the transfer window we must focus on getting ourselves out of the mire this coming month.
The one major positive in January - and I think we can probably agree upon this unanimously - has been the impact of some of our U23s players, who have looked fairly competent when thrown in at the deep end during our games in this past month.
Taking into account our dreadful results - Hull aside - and the fact that our only decent performance in January coincided with the inclusion of Academy products in the team, it was fairly slim pickings when selecting the contenders for Player of the Month.
Joel Asoro made his first league start for Sunderland in January and capped it off with a memorable performance and goal against Hull City, earning himself a spot on our shortlist.
Similarly, Josh Maja has been thrust into the spotlight after we opted to rid ourselves of the only two senior strikers on our books and, in fairness, he’s done okay. He linked up brilliantly with Asoro in that Hull game and though he hasn’t scored since we played Fulham, you can see that he has all of the raw attributes to be a success here eventually.
An unpopular opinion, but George Honeyman has been a fairly consistent performer throughout this season for Sunderland and it’s clear his enthusiasm and passion for the club is recognised by Chris Coleman, who has opted to select him to start in every single game since he was appointed as manager in November. His assist for Asoro’s goal against Hull was genuinely brilliant and his partnership with Bryan Oviedo down our left hand side in that game was a particular highlight.
And, finally, Ethan Robson - the academy graduate started in three of the five games in January alongside Lee Cattermole in the centre of the park and hasn’t at all looked out of place, giving Chris Coleman food for thought ahead of the final stages of the season.
And The Winner Is...
It was close, but the winner with a 39% share of the votes is Ethan Robson.
Robson was our man of the match in the FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough at the start of the month, earned an 8/10 in our player ratings for the Hull victory and, despite the poor overall team performance, was one of Sunderland’s better players in the game down at Birmingham City on Tuesday night - and if you don’t believe us, you can read our tactical breakdown of his performance by clicking here.
Well done Ethan - here’s hoping that, despite players returning from injury and the recent signing of Ovie Ejaria, you’ll play well enough to hold your position in the side ahead of a trying run towards the end of the season.