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Sunderland secure signings of experienced Scottish duo - but will we love them or hate them?

Not sure who they are, why we signed them or whether they’re going to be any good? Well, let us indulge you...

Sunderland AFC

Sunderland AFC yesterday night announced the signings of Jon McLaughlin and Chris Maguire - two names that the majority of supporters won’t be familiar with, and two that most of us probably had to do a bit of googling on before making a snap judgement on whether or not they’re any good.

My fellow Roker Report Tom Atkinson wrote a fantastic piece on this subject yesterday and I won’t bore you by going back over the same subject again, but the fact is that now we are a League One club our supporters will need to re-align their expectations on who we sign.

Solid, unspectacular players capable of contributing at this level will become the norm going forward, and in McLaughlin and Maguire we’ve found two men who pretty much fit the bill when it comes to acquiring proven League One talent this summer.

Just in case you aren’t aware of who they are or what we can expect, here’s a quick summary which might help you to make an early first judgement - though, what I would advise is that you reserve giving a true opinion on any new players until they’ve had the chance to play and show you what they’re capable of.

Whether they’ve done well elsewhere or not, they’ve shown the new manager that they want to be here - and that’s incredibly vital in terms of what we are trying to achieve going forward. The next step is for them to turn up for pre-season training on Wednesday, knuckle down and prove that they want to work hard and get themselves into shape ahead of the new season.

Jon McLaughlin - Goalkeeper

So... who is he?

Jon McLaughlin is a big old bugger - a little bit rough around the edges, but I’d argue that is exactly what we need between the sticks having suffered from watching some absolute dross in that position over the last twelve months or so.

Robbin Ruiter was the best of a bad bunch in goal, and though Jason Steele improved towards the end of the season he was an absolute catastrophe. The less said about Lee Camp the better.

Does it not make anyone else sick that two of those men have left the club and will be Premier League players next season? I felt my stomach churn as I typed that - horrendous.

So, McLaughlin can’t really do much wrong next season. He’s walking into a position where Sunderland supporters have just become used to watching complete idiots throw goals in on a weekly basis, so if he can improve on that he’ll be just fine.

Bradford City v Northampton Town - npower League Two Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Who has he played for before, and how did he do?

He started out on the non-league scene as a youngster before finding his way to Bradford, where he became a serious figure in first-team scene there and played his part in their promotion from League Two into League One.

McLaughlin played in Bradford’s unlikely League Cup final appearance against Swansea City in 2013, and spent another year with the club before failing to agree upon a new contract with the Bantams - instead opting to leave Yorkshire, moving on to play for Burton Albion.

He again achieved promotion to League One, and was the first choice stopper there before he was released in 2017.

Following a trial with Hearts, he signed a one-year deal and really came into his own as he not only proved himself as the best goalkeeper in the Scottish Premiership last season, but also earned himself his first cap for Scotland, starting in their friendly with Mexico earlier this month.

Mexico v Scotland - International Friendly Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Were there any other clubs in for him?

According to reports in the media McLaughlin turned down the chance of playing Champions League football with Azerbaijani champions Quarabag FK, and also rejected an approach from Championship side Millwall.

In the report on the club confirmed that the 30-year old had been offered a new contract by Hearts, but instead opted to look elsewhere and move back to England under the management of Jack Ross.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Got any decent highlights?

Here’s McLaughlin doing the business for Hearts last season - note the comment from the uploader of the video, who calls him “the most underrated goalkeeper in the league by an absolute mile” - praise indeed.

Chris Maguire - Attacking Midfielder/Forward

So... who is he?

Look up ‘maverick lower-league forward’ in the dictionary and right underneath you’ll find the name of Chris Maguire - a player with the capability to wow and frustrate those paying to watch him play in equal measures.

There won’t be many Bury fans sad to see the back of him this summer, and with good reason. Maguire managed just two goals all season as the Shakers were relegated to League Two, and simply wasn’t able to recapture the form that led to him being an unquestionable fan-favourite amongst the Oxford United supporters, who still to this day love and adore him.

And it’s perhaps due to his links with Oxford that we see him arrive on Wearside, particularly since two of our current owners are huge fans of the U’s and know exactly what he’s capable of having watched him wow the crowds at the Kassam stadium over a frantic 17 month period.

So it’s all about which version of Maguire we end up with - the one that swanned around Gigg Lane and did his best to annoy fans of relegated Bury? Or the one that was loved by supporters of just about every other club he’s turned out for?

Let’s reserve our judgement for once we’ve seen the lad play - though, it was put to us at Roker Report that Maguire had even offered to walk to Wearside in order to facilitate the move, such was his desire to come here. That’s the right type of attitude to have - here’s hoping he knuckles down and proves his doubters wrong with a prolific period at our club.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Who has he played for before, and how did he do?

Sunderland are the tenth club of Maguire’s career, which in truth probably says a lot about his ability to settle at a club and really make his mark. He ended a six-year stint with Aberdeen in 2011 when he moved to Derby County, but wasn’t a success there and he quickly moved on to Sheffield Wednesday - where he became a fan-favourite and racked up a steady haul of goals over a three year period.

He then moved on to have another unsuccessful spell elsewhere, this time at Rotherham, before eventually finding his feet at Oxford - signing on a permanent basis following an initial loan deal. In the 2016-17 season he got a career-best goals haul of 17, before turning down a new contract to sign on with Lee Clark at Bury.

Whilst his time with the eventually-relegated Shakers was a complete and utter failure, it may just be that he had a naff manager and that the club was a bit shagged before he even got there. Read this superb article on our site from Bury fan Peter Taylor to get a better perspective of just why it never worked out for him last season.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Were there any other clubs in for him?

Not that we are aware of, no.

In truth, Maguire’s stock isn’t particularly high right now, but getting him off their wage-bill was a priority for Bury as, following relegation, they’ve had to have a bit of a re-shuffle in order to clear the decks for building a squad in League Two next season.

That’s not to say he would have struggled to find a club elsewhere, because he wouldn’t have. He’s still just about in his twenties, and his impressive stint with Oxford is still fresh enough in the memory to buy him some credibility amongst the various managers in League One that are on the lookout for a bargain forward that can fire them towards the top-end of the table next season.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Got any decent highlights?

I said he was loved at Oxford United and, having watched the video below, it’s easy to see why. He’s basically a massive wind-up merchant that loves antagonising opposition fans and players - we’ve not had one of them for a while, so this relationship should be fun at least.

Who doesn’t love a complete sh*thouse? Ha’way Maguire, lad!

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