Q: Do we persist with Aiden McGeady and trying to find a successful way of playing that includes him, or do we look to move him on in January and find a replacement?
Damian Brown says...
You can look at McGeady’s loss of form in one of two ways, really: either he’s a man underperforming in a role he should be dominating, or he’s a one trick pony that’s been sussed out by everyone else in the League.
In the case of the former, and if there’s a way to fix it, you can’t be looking to get rid of one of your best players when you’re pushing for promotion. We’ve done that already and we know the costs.
I’m more inclined to believe it’s the latter; that McGeady has a very specific repertoire of skills at his disposal and it doesn’t take very long to figure out what they are, and every opposing manager and player will be aware when he steps onto the pitch what his strengths and weaknesses are.
Age is the enemy for footballers. Physically a very fit 33 year old is going to have less in his legs than an equally fit, younger player. Simple enough, really, when looking at whether you want some dynamism in such a crucial role or not. For all of his talent, Aiden McGeady isn’t an unknown quantity in Sunderland’s favour, and he isn’t going to get better than he is now.
The only question in my mind regards to whether to shift him or not is: can we utilise McGeady properly, knowing all of this? There’s an argument to be made that if he stays on past January we can’t be looking to him to create the opportunities and join the spearhead from the first minute. If he’s going to make an impact now it has to take into account what he’s capable of, and bringing him on against tired legs in a game that he’s been witness to the ebb and flow of is the only way to do that. He can turn on a sixpence and fire a pinpoint cross in as the game reaches it’s crescendo, without being expected to take on his (typically younger) man and provide chances every time.
In short - if we aren’t going to utilise him properly considering his obvious strengths and weaknesses, we might as well shift the wages and hope to bring in someone that can offer a more consistent attacking threat.
David Holloway says...
Aiden McGeady is a talented player, a very tidy footballer who is capable of great moments. We have had precious few of those over the last few years.
He is a player of talent - albeit an inconsistent talent - and is good on the ball without the pace to move us up the pitch. He is an individual talent, good for at least a dozen goals a season. He is certainly good, but is he good enough to justify building the team around him at a cost for this level?
Well... he was fully deserving of his money and his status last season. Let’s not forget that he played through a pretty bad injury in the last couple of months in an effort to get us promoted, so his commitment should not be in doubt.
I wonder if that effort is impacting on his current form? I expect that it is. If we were to replace him, who would we buy? If we were to look to sell him where would he go?
No - we need to keep our better players, work with them, get them fit and motivated and enjoy them. A fit and firing Aiden McGeady could change our season. We should keep him.
Phil West says...
I am absolutely unequivocal about the subject of McGeady. It is time to bid him farewell and for him to move on to pastures new. If we want to freshen up the squad and make a strong promotion push during the second half of the season, I don’t believe that the Irishman has a role to play.
Harsh? You might think so, especially when you consider that he was ‘The Best Player In League One Last Season’, and was, according to many, the difference between us finishing in the play-offs and ending the season bogged down in mid-table. He did play extremely well last season, his creativity and skill level was superb, but I’m judging him on this campaign.
He slows the team down, is simply not providing the killer ball when needed, and seems completely detached from what is going on around him. Lynden Gooch, when fit, is a far greater asset to the team than McGeady - something that in itself represents a major turnaround.
I have no doubt that Phil Parkinson may well persist with McGeady for some more games between now and January, but surely he can see that the need for new blood is great. You can have all the skill in the world, but if your attitude is wrong - as I believe McGeady’s currently is - you’ll be exposed eventually.
I believe that under Jack Ross he slipped into a comfort zone, out of which Parkinson is trying to extract him, and he simply isn’t responding.
McGeady has been an excellent player for us, and has played his part with some superb performances over the past couple of seasons, but come January it is time to start looking to the future, hopefully by recruiting players with genuine pace and who can beat a man en-route to unlocking the opposition defence.
Our chances of escaping this league, you suspect, will depend upon it.
Chris Wynn says...
There’s no doubt Aiden McGeady is one of the most talented players in League One, but there’s also no debating the fact that he’s not showing it.
Phil Parkinson’s sides have, on the whole, had a reputation on being organised, well drilled and direct and I’m sure he’s spent the international break working on this. I can see how McGeady fits in with this ethos.
When he’s played out wide the Irish international has allowed his full-back to be outnumbered by not tracking back. This could be forgiven if he was producing chances, assists or even getting on the scoresheet himself, but it isn’t happening.
It’s also fairly clear that Parkinson hasn’t been able to inspire improvement in McGeady’s form despite keeping him in and around the first XI. Considering how much we relied on him last season makes the dip in form even more confusing.
I think from Parkinson’s point of view he needs to be ruthless in arranging a squad in how he would like the team to setup and that is unlikely to include McGeady, especially in a wide position.
The issue will be that it’s very unlikely that we’ll have any offers for the winger and the board won’t want to look at options such as settling his contract. This leaves a talented and outspoken player such as McGeady on the sidelines that the manager has to deal with.
I hope Parkinson has the man-management skills to keep McGeady happy whilst not a regular in the starting XI as he can be an asset if he can lift his head and find his form, especially as he has proved on occasion from the bench.
It’s not an easy task, but then when was managing Sunderland an easy job?!
Craig Davies says...
Roy Keane was once asked about an Aiden McGeady performance for the Republic of Ireland against the backdrop of a disappointing match against Belarus where McGeady was dragged off at half time. His response was naturally barbed, but was also laced with a little truth. “My reaction to Aiden’s performance? I think he can do a lot better but maybe that’s the story of Aiden’s career.”
There is no doubting McGeady’s supreme talent or his contribution to Sunderland, certainly last season at the very least, when he would have walked into every pundit’s League One team of the season. Even the depressing season before that, he was able to momentarily pull some breathtaking rabbits out of the most unexpected of hats. It just wasn’t sufficient to save our Championship skins or consistently produced enough to have any meaningful impact, other than the orgasmic moment itself when the ball hit the back of the net.
Right now, McGeady is a debatable topic for Sunderland supporters, but he has been for nearly every club he’s played for - a beautifully gifted magician, with sublime skill, who on a given moment can create an exalted piece of footballing art.
Last season he was consistent, and to steal a line from Bret Hart was ‘the excellence of execution.’ But this season he’s been flat ,with only the very occasional moment of glory.
Perhaps last season’s resurgence was down to a waning 32 year old finding his level. Maybe he enjoyed the novelty of being what he considers a Premier League fish in a very small pond. Perhaps he finds the drudge of lower league uninspiring? Or perhaps he’s just Aiden, inconsistent and frustrating like he has been for much of his career.
He’s had an Indian summer with us but will he get better or faster? No. He’s 33 and not Cristiano Ronaldo, but does he still retain some value? Of course. But is he valuable enough to pay four times the average League One player, when we desperately need bodies and pace? He may well be the sacrifice we have to make to have a successful January.