Aiden McGeady was an easy choice to reclaim the top spot in the Roker Report Power Rankings after his virtuoso performance at Wembley.
The Republic of Ireland international scored twice, and was unplayable at times using his exemplary technique and peerless skill to torment Portsmouth, especially in the first-half of the Checkatrade Trophy final.
McGeady’s brilliant free-kick and goal at the death would likely have been enough to make him champion, even before considering his brilliant play in the first-half and goal in our penalty shootout defeat.
Nobody came close to challenging McGeady for the top spot, but Grant Leadbitter was vaulted back to second, he was among Sunderland’s best players in the first-half and was surprisingly withdrawn in the second period.
Lee Cattermole completes the top three; he was magnificent, throwing himself into challenges and offering first-class protection in front of the Wearsider’s defence. The 31-year-old’s decisive penalty miss shouldn’t take away from what was a brilliant performance from one of the club’s leaders.
Finally, some housekeeping: Jack Diamond has left the Power Rankings after completing a loan move to Spennymoor Town in the National League North. The 19-year-old has made three appearances for Sunderland’s first-team all in the EFL Trophy.
1: Aiden McGeady (2) -Back to the top of the rankings for a sixth time, McGeady is making a strong case to be Sunderland’s player of the season, even when considering Jon McLaughlin’s heroics throughout the campaign.
2: Grant Leadbitter (6) - Rises back into the top three, despite not playing the full 120 minutes. His departure highlighted just how crucial a role Leadbitter fills in getting this team playing their best football. Sunderland lacked any control in the second-half and extra-time without their Mackem midfielder.
3: Lee Cattermole (7) - Back in the top three after one of his best performances of the season, don’t let the penalty miss erase memories of our former skipper’s brilliant play throughout the final.
4: Lewis Morgan (9) - Fourth matches Morgan’s highest ever finish in the Power Rankings, and it is well deserved after a great first-half showing. Nobody on either team settled into the game quicker than our tricky winger who was unplayable at times in the first period.
5: Luke O’Nien (1) - The champion before the international break drops all the way to fifth, the Checkatrade Trophy final highlighted the limitations of O’Nien as a right-back, he was positionally all over the place and targeted constantly by Pompey.
6: Jon McLaughlin (4) - If only McLaughlin had kept out George Evans’ penalty, a great weekend could have become an even more sensational one. McLaughlin drops further for his indecision that gave Jamal Lowe the space to lob him, as well as his failure to stop any Portsmouth spot-kicks.
7: Max Power (3) - Drops out the top five after losing his starting spot to George Honeyman. Power did bury his penalty, but didn’t always look sure of himself after coming on as a second-half substitute that was asked to play several different roles by a manager trying to reclaim his team’s first-half momentum.
8: Jack Baldwin (SR) - Stays put at eight, after undoing a lot of his good work by committing the fatal error which led to Lowe’s lob in extra-time.
9: Lynden Gooch (10) - Rises one spot after a bizarre cameo at Wembley, the American struggled as a false nine, before returning to his usual role out-wide, like Power, Gooch deserves some love for scoring in the shootout.
10: George Honeyman (17) - Back in the top ten after missing league matches through suspension, Honeyman combined well with Morgan and McGeady early on, but faded after half-time.
11: Charlie Wyke (SR) - Showed brilliant composure and awareness to set-up McGeady’s equaliser, but it’s hard to justify moving up a striker who avoids penalty taking duties in a shootout.
12: Will Grigg (5) - Drops out of the top ten after a poor performance in the final, Grigg was struggling with an ankle-problem that saw him return early from international duty, but our expensive striker didn’t cover himself in glory at Wembley regardless.
13: Denver Hume (15) -Added an extra spark and attacking intent from left-back when he replaced the injured Reece James, Hume could be back in the starting line-up and top ten if he continues his decent form since returning from injury.
14: Tom Flanagan (12) - Like his central-defensive partner, Baldwin, our versatile defender endured a mixed afternoon and would have climbed higher up the rankings, but for a poor mistake in the build-up to Portsmouth’s second goal.
15: Reece James (18) - Undid a lot of his great defensive work in the first-half with his criminal defending for Portsmouth’s equaliser, he rises only a few spots after the ghastly mistake which surrendered Sunderland’s lead in the dying minutes.
16: Jimmy Dunne (13) - Continues to slip down the rankings after a second straight game in which our on-loan defender was an unused substitute.
17: Adam Matthews (14) - Missed yet another fixture through injury and falls further down our ranks, for all his talents Matthews is arguably the least reliable first-teamer when it comes to being fit enough to make it onto the pitch.
18: Duncan Watmore (16) - Sadly, our former England Under 21-international missed out on Wembley due to his season-ending injury suffered against Wycombe Wanderers.
19: Chris Maguire (SR) - Whilst there remain hopes the King, will play again this season, the cup final came too soon for the ex-Oxford United forward.
20: Dylan McGeouch (SR) -Alongside Dunne, McGeouch was the other outfielder to remain on the bench and miss out on playing in the EFL Trophy final.
21: Kazaiah Sterling 22: Bryan Oviedo 23: Benji Kimpioka 24: Robbin Ruiter 25: Alim Ozturk 26: Bali Mumba 27: Glenn Loovens 28: Jack Bainbridge 29: Donald Love 30: Jake Hackett 31: Lee Connelly 32: Brandon Taylor 33: Jordan Hunter 34: Daniel Neil 35: Max Stryjek