On loan-Everton and England U21 defender Brendan Galloway has not seen first team action at Sunderland since appearing off the bench during our 0-0 draw away at table-toppers Wolverhampton Wanderers in December of last year.
It’s an interesting turn of events, one that makes you think about Sunderland’s chances of acquiring loan players from reputable clubs going forward.
Like it or not, within the game Sunderland have created themselves a reputation as a club that ‘ruin’ the careers of young players - a far cry from the days of when players like Jonny Evans, Danny Rose, Marcos Alonso and Danny Welbeck came here to learn their craft.
Galloway - even despite arriving here as a decent prospect with good potential - has been largely cast aside since Chris Coleman came to the club, and though he trains every day with the first team he has little to no chance of appearing again in a red and white shirt before this disastrous season is eventually over and done with.
It’s really quite amazing just how bad an impression he appears to have left - particularly when you look at his playing career before arriving on Wearside.
Having had a decent start to life in the professional game with MK Dons as a teen he was snapped up by Everton in 2014, made 14 starts in the Premier League in the 2015/16 season and then went out on loan to West Bromwich Albion. On top of that he’s played at just about every level for England up until the U21s, receiving a total of 21 appearances for his country.
Even more remarkable is that Everton have suffered enormously from defensive injuries this season, particularly in the first half of their Premier League campaign, and had he been still with the Toffees instead of coming he would have undoubtedly played a fair chunk of top flight football this season due to the injury problems sustained by Leighton Baines.
So what went wrong?
It wasn’t for the want of trying at the start of the campaign. Even with the rest of the team playing fairly well in the formative days under Simon Grayson, Galloway struggled; even under-performing on several occasions in pre-season games against lower league opposition.
He arrived from Merseyside with high-hopes from fans of his parent club - including our friend Adam Partington from Everton fansite Grand Old Team, who in an interview on RokerReport.com spoke well of Galloway and admitted his shock that Everton were even allowing him to leave.
“I’m a little surprised to see Galloway go out on loan given the volume of games we could have this season with the Europa League”, Partington said. “He’s a centre half by trade, quite astute and decent on the ball - I hope you play him there because that’s what he needs and where you’ll get the best out of him.”
Unfortunately for Galloway the only action he’s seen through the centre of defence has been in our U23s side, where he’s made a small handful of appearances since the winter in order to help keep his fitness levels up.
His initial performances were not good, and against Derby County on the opening day of the season he found himself at fault for the first goal conceded by Sunderland in the Championship. The mistakes continued, and with Bryan Oviedo returning from injury he eventually lost his place in the starting lineup.
Chris Coleman hasn’t often been prompted about Galloway and why he’s not really given him a chance, but Coleman did admit at the beginning of March that he reassured Galloway he may be needed and should stay fit just in case.
After the commencement of the January transfer window the Sunderland manager spoke about Galloway’s situation and admitted that the club had tried to prompt Everton into loaning him to another club, but it didn’t work out. He said:
Brendan is a lovely kid and he has been working hard but he has lacked game time. He’s here to get game time and he is not getting it.
You don’t want to waste the boy’s time, it is a critical stage for him. We thought maybe Everton would want to take him back, maybe loan him out somewhere else – even in the division below – but that wasn’t the case. So Brendan is still here, and he is a cracking boy. Who knows, we may need to call on him yet.
To the frustration of us all, it simply hasn’t played out as well as anyone could have wanted. Galloway must surely regret the move, and also look with envy at the game-time that has been afforded to other Everton youngsters in their defence this season whilst he’s been left to rot at Sunderland.
When considering the poor impact made by other young loanees this season, you have to wonder whether or not the club might have earned themselves a rather unwanted badge as a place you don’t want to send your young players, and with a drop into League One looming that’s not necessarily a good thing. Though Galloway’s move simply hasn’t worked out, how you also explain the plight of Jake Clarke-Salter, Ovie Ejaria, Tyias Browning and Jonny Williams is difficult.
For whatever reason things just haven’t gone as expected for any of them, and going forward it’s perhaps time for Sunderland to face up to the issues we’ve had this season and consider whether or not bringing in all of these inexperienced players is actually doing any of the parties involved any good at all.