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Summer Signings Scorecard: How have Sunderland’s new players performed so far?

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Matthew Crichton gives his end-of-year ratings for the players that Sunderland signed in the summer. Do you agree with him, and do you think any of them have improved our team as a whole?

Sunderland Unveil New Signing George Dobson Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

As we edge closer to the pivotal period of business that could make or break Sunderland’s League One season, it is time to analyse the performances of our summer signings so far.

Sunderland made seven first-team acquisitions in the summer - five permanent alongside two season-long-loans. Five signings were made from the Championship, with two joining from our League One rivals - just one required a transfer fee. Sunderland currently sit 12th in League One, a club record low position, seven places below where we finished last season under Jack Ross.

The question that stands, is: have these new signings made the team better, or worse?

Find out our ratings out of ten below and let us know how you would score Sunderland’s summer signings in the comments.


Laurens De Bock - 3/10

What an utterly pointless addition this has been - completely outplayed by an academy graduate who has not even played a full season worth of senior games.

Imagine having an experienced steady League One left-back in Reece James, to then decide to sell him for minimal profit, leaving yourself with two whole months to sign a replacement - only to then end up panic signing a man surplus to requirements at Leeds on deadline day. The whole situation has been utterly laughable, and is a huge indictment on Sunderland’s hapless recruitment team.

De Bock is yet to play a good game for Sunderland and epitomises the careless loan player we have seen far too many of at the Stadium of Light throughout the decade.

I wonder if Leeds fancy taking him back.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Conor McLaughlin - 4/10

This signing looked a coup at first on a free.

McLaughlin possesses vast EFL experience in addition to his international pedigree, but unfortunately he has not shown us what he’s made of in a red and white shirt.

The Northern Irishman has been practically ever-present in what has been a catastrophic Sunderland defence this season. He is prone to giving away needless fouls, and with his inability to contribute going forward he finds himself frequently being hauled off when Sunderland need a goal.

With McLaughlin being the only ‘proper’ senior right-back at the club, it’s essential that Parkinson purchases a new one in January who can contribute at both ends of the pitch.

Germany - Northern Ireland Photo by Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images

George Dobson - 5/10

Regardless of my mark, I believe Dobson has potential to succeed at Sunderland.

Like O’Nien, the ex-Walsall captain embodied the type of transfer I want Sunderland to make more often - young, hungry players who we can develop and profit on instead of signing older players on the decline.

That said, has he improved Sunderland on the pitch? The answer is no... not yet.

Dobson has not been the box-to-box midfielder we thought we had acquired - his red card against Blackpool typified what has been a frustrating period for the 22-year-old.

I’m hoping he can prove me wrong, but there is certainly improvement required.

Burnley v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Second Round
Dobson celebrates scoring past Joe Hart against Burnley in the Carabao Cup.
Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Marc McNulty - 5/10

Whilst the Scotsman’s goal record has been an improvement on Will Grigg and Charlie Wyke overall (not a high standard, I am aware), his record of just 2 goals in 12 League One appearances is not really good enough. McNulty has showed signs of class, but his finishing is just too inconsistent, perhaps explaining why he failed miserably at Reading.

Admittedly, injuries have not helped and his work rate is the best out of our forwards, but he’s certainly not someone who will benefit from the long-ball approach Parkinson is trying to adopt.

The reality is that we need a consistent goal scorer, and McNulty is not the answer.

Oxford United v Sunderland AFC - Carabao Cup Round of 16 Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Joel Lynch - 5.5/10

Burton Albion at home... he just crumbled.

I rated Lynch highly at first, but his winter form has been dreadful. When he arrived he appeared to be the physical towering defender we were craving, but since then he’s suffered drastically from some criminal defensive errors.

I can see Lynch working his way back into Sunderland’s starting XI, but with how he has performed recently he cannot be regarded as an effective signing.

On a short contract at the age of 32, I think it is highly unlikely that Lynch will be a long-term answer to our defensive frailties.

Sunderland v Southend United - Sky Bet Leauge One Photo by Steven Hadlow/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Lee Burge - 6/10

Now for some positivity!

In the summer we signed Coventry’s first-choice goalkeeper free of charge as backup for Jon McLaughlin. Refusing to stay glued to the bench all year, Burge produced impressive displays in the Carabao Cup which led to him breaking into the first-team ahead of a player we thought was untouchable last season.

I personally did not see how he would get into the team, but as a free backup goalkeeper Burge has been a highly effective signing - nothing outstanding by any means, but an improvement on calamitous individuals such as Robbin Ruiter, Jason Steele and Lee Camp who were never trusted by supporters throughout their respective tenures.

Credit where credit is due.

Sheffield United v Sunderland AFC - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Jordan Willis - 7/10

Now for the man who snubbed Championship offers to join us - Jordan Willis has undoubtedly been Sunderland’s most consistent signing. He’s added much-needed pace to our backline and is generally a class above our other central defenders.

The integral part with Willis is finding someone of his calibre to play alongside him.

Sunderland have conceded more goals than games played this season, declining massively from last season. However, I believe this is due to a combination of reducing the quality of our full-backs, as well as not possessing another consistent central defender (McLaughlin’s inconsistency is another factor).

Willis is the sole signing from this list who I believe has improved the position he plays in.

Sunderland v Portsmouth - Sky Bet League One Photo by Steven Hadlow/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images