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Roker Report’s End-of-Season Sunderland Grades: Midfielders - Who got our highest & lowest marks?

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In the third installation of the Roker Report gradings, we assess each and every midfielder to have represented Sunderland AFC this season. It’s a mixed bag in the middle of the park!

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Lee Cattermole: E

Sunderland’s vice-captain is a shadow of his former-self, that’s a truth evident to each and every Mackem whose had the displeasure of watching us this season.

An impressive display in the first game of the season against Derby put us all under the impression that the Stockton-born midfielder was going to crunch his way through every opposition side this season, as he consolidated a reputation as a formidable Championship midfielder. Evidently, that which we anticipated did not transpire.

In almost every game Catts has played, he’s looked off the pace in every aspect. He tackled too slow, struggled to pick passes and positioned himself poorly on far too many occasions. I sincerely hope he moves on in the summer.

Livingston v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Ovie Ejaria: C-

Ejaria was far from the worst signing made by Chris Coleman in our penniless January transfer window, but that isn’t setting the bar too high.

The twenty-year-old on loan from Liverpool had skill in abundance and always looked capable of making something happen whenever we got forward and he was on the ball, but on the flipside he was often wasteful in possession and lacked the physicality which the Football League demands. He had all the hallmarks of a luxury player which perhaps a team in our position should’ve avoided.

All things considered, the lad wasn’t a bad signing, but he was a raw prospect who lacked the key attributes we needed in midfield.

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Elliot Embleton: C

We didn’t see too much of Embleton this season, but I reckon we saw enough to suggest that he could be in and around the first team next season.

The academy prospect was limited to a handful of appearances off the bench over the course of this campaign, but he turned out spirited performances in the handfuls of minutes he was afforded. In the final game of the season against Wolves, he shone when he made a last-ditch challenge in the last ten minutes to maintain our clean sheet.

Embleton gave us reason enough to suppose that he has a future at the club - so let’s hope that we do see more of him going forward!

Livingston v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Darron Gibson: E

Decent player, terrible attitude - that’s my most concise assessment of our (former) Irish midfielder. But, for the want of detail, let’s review Gibson’s contributions to the 2017/18 campaign.

He branded Kone, Lens and Khazri as mercenaries amid a drunken tirade following our humiliating loss to Celtic; invited cries of hypocrisy when he himself started poorly; improved significantly under Coleman and - just when things were looking up - he got himself firstly, injured for three months and secondly, suspended and subsequently released by the club for drink-driving.

It’s a shame really. Darron was clearly a solid ball-playing centre-mid by Championship standards but in his mentality lay a fundamental flaw that was ultimately his undoing.

Bury v Sunderland - Carabao Cup First Round Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Lynden Gooch: B-

On a brighter note, let’s talk about Lynden Gooch.

The US international wasn’t handed as many appearances as most would’ve liked - appearing only nineteen times in the league this season - but he grafted from start to finish whenever his boots were on the pitch.

He’s another that I’d like to see more of next season - it’d be a shame if he didn’t stick around.

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George Honeyman: B+

A consistent, integral component of our midfield engine, Honeyman has served us well across the entirety of this season - making plenty of contributions both offensively and defensively.

Honeyman has made forty-two appearances in the league this season, significantly more than any other Sunderland player, and has found the net six times while also making plenty of crucial tackles and interceptions.

With John O’Shea likely to not recieve a new contract, I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at the prospect of George being our captain next season.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Wahbi Khazri: D

He clearly didn’t want to be here and, given the fact that Moyes shut him out for the vast majority of the 2016/17 season for no good reason, I can’t really blame him.

Khazri made three league appearances for Sunderland, played with little enthusiasm, and then left for Rennes on loan, where’s he apparently been mint.

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Aiden McGeady: B

One of the best wingers in the league when he wanted to be. The talent was always there for McGeady, but if he wasn’t given a clear inroad into the game, more often than not it would pass him by.

Considering that he cost a measly sum of £250k, he was quite easily the best signing made by Simon Grayson during his torrid time on Wearside. The Irishman’s skill was a joy to watch and he always looked capable of netting a pearler out of nowhere, but that lethargic disposition I mentioned held him back from being the unrivaled quality player we needed this season.

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Jonny Williams: E

Jonny Williams is not built for contact sport.

He’d be a quality player if he wasn’t perpetually injured, but sadly he is.

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Callum McManaman: C

A watered-down version of McGeady if ever there was one. McManaman possessed the aforementioned Irishman’s inability to graft his way into a game, but lacked that quality which McGeady used as a countermeasure.

That’s not to say that McManaman has been a terrible player, but he’s not exactly set the world alight since joining on summer deadline day.

He’s contracted for another year and, logically, would be a good player for a side aiming for promotion from League One, but I wouldn’t lose too much sleep if he left.

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Paddy McNair: B+

Ah man, I wish we could’ve kept him fit right from the start.

Since returning to the side from injury, McNair has bossed each and every midfield he’s played in - throwing around tenacious tackles, making formidable forward runs and netting some fine finishes. His absolute rocket against Reading will most likely go down as our goal of the season.

Please stay.

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Luke Molyneux: C+

We only have the Wolves game to judge him on, but that shouldn’t detract from how impressive Molyneux was that day.

The young lad was thrown into the starting XI at the very last minute when Kazenga LuaLua pulled up with an injury in the warm-up, but that didn’t phase him in the slightest and he went on to play a blinder. He covered every blade of glass, orchestrated many of our attacks and just generally lifted the atmosphere by being one of the many examples of our academy bearing fruit.

Much like Embleton, I’d be interested in seeing what he can do for us in League One.

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Bali Mumba: n/a

Replacing your team’s captain on your debut and being handed his armband will be a story that makes him a legend at whichever secondary school he attends.

As impressive an accolade as that may be, I can’t really evaluate him based on his sole first team appearance off the bench late into the game. Chances are we won’t see much of him next season either as he could probably do with a loan spell or two - he is only sixteen after all!

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Didier Ndong: D

Our record signing was disappointing in the half a season he spent with us. Ndong turned out a handful of solid showings and another handful of underwhelming ones - which is far from good enough considering how much money we spent (or rather, wasted) on him.

Like many of the remnants of the Moyesian era, he didn’t want to be here and saw himself as entitled to a higher standard of football - and whilst he did get a move to Watford on loan in January, he hasn’t made a single appearance for the Hornets. Not one.

Everton v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Ethan Robson: C-

Robson, admittedly, looked out of his depth when he played earlier this season, but he was one of the many that impressed when we battered the league champions.

All things considered, I’d rank him the lowest of the academy midfielders that I’ve seen this season, but only marginally.

He could still be one of the young lads stepping up to the first team next season.

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Jack Rodwell: F

Aye.

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Join us tomorrow as Jake Hannah brings you his grades for Sunderland’s forwards!