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Hit, miss or maybe? Assessing Sunderland’s SIXTEEN signings from the 2018/19 season

With the season almost over, Graham Falk assesses each of the sixteen players signed by Sunderland over the two transfer windows this season. How do you think they’ve all fared?

Sunderland v Walsall - Sky Bet League One Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images

Jon McLaughlin

There’s absolutely no debate here is there? The Scottish stopper has been comfortably our best signing this season and has pulled off some phenomenal saves, alongside being the first goalkeeper to save a penalty at the Stadium of Light.

Had it not been for Aiden McGeady, McLaughlin would have walked away with our Player of the Year award and nobody would have had any complaints.

Verdict: Hit!

Glenn Loovens

A huge disappointment. He came in as an experienced former captain of Sheffield Wednesday and, despite his age, we hoped his many years in the game and leadership would be essential to our cause as the season progressed.

Unfortunately what we received was a player who wasn’t able to perform on a weekly basis and has cut a largely isolated figure, rarely even featuring in matchday squads or challenging the first-choice defenders who have under-performed for much of this season.

Verdict: Miss!

Alim Ozturk

There’s an argument to say this could change, but to say the Turkish defender has had a positive season would be viewing his season with rose-tinted glasses.

Ozturk came back into the side recently and has done alright, but the fact he’s featured so rarely means it’d be hard to call this particular piece of business a ‘hit’.

Verdict: Miss!

Chris Maguire

Whilst Chris Maguire has became a cult-hero on Wearside due to his attitude and application on the field, the true beauty of him is the he is genuinely very talented.

We were warned of a poor attitude and to say a free transfer from relegated Bury caused a few eyebrows to be raised would be an understatement, but the Scottish midfielder has been one of our most important players, hitting seven goals as well as being involved in some of our most impressive performances of the season.

Verdict: Hit!

Gillingham v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Dylan McGeouch

Seen as a our marquee signing, it’s been a funny old season for the former Hibee.

Many expected him to be a regular starter, but a succession of injuries and Jack Ross’ selections have meant that he’s played nowhere near as much as any of us expected.

However, when he has played, he’s looked assured and calm in possession and there is no midfielder in the squad that recycles possession as well as he does. Had he not got injured against Burton we may well have still been in the automatic promotion race.

Verdict: Hit!

Charlie Wyke

Summing up Charlie Wyke’s season is very, very difficult. Up until March, he was a figure of derision and seen as a flop of Altidore proportions, however since we trashed Accrington Stanley 3-0, he’s scored regularly and looked like the man we paid good money for.

His goal return may indicate he’s been a bit of a miss, but his record form and his injury record this term means it’s difficult to judge. Hopefully he continues on the upward trajectory he’s on.

Verdict: Maybe...

Tom Flanagan

Let me start by saying that I don’t think big Tom is as some people make out and he’s had some good games for us - however, there’s no doubt that Sunderland’s Achilles heel this year has been the centre of our defence, and Flanagan has been consistently part of it right throughout the season.

Quite good with the ball at his feet, perhaps he would be better suited to being a back up full back that can add height to our set-pieces, but as a centre-back, he’s been poor in the main this term.

Verdict: Miss!

Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Luke O’Nien

Just saying his name makes me smile - sweet Luke O’Nien has been one of the finds of the season, and he’s came on in leaps and bounds since his notable ‘rabbit in the headlights’ debut at home to Charlton Athletic on the opening day of the season.

Whether he expected his break through to come at full-back is another thing entirely, but despite being moved into defence he’s still managed to contribute with goals, assists and non-stop energy - all things that have made a big difference to our side.

Verdict: Hit!

Jack Baldwin

Baldwin started off really well and looked like a comfortable, solid League One centre-half. What happened mid-season is anyone’s guess, but he’s been average at best for most of the season - and his display in our 5-4 home defeat to Coventry City was shambolic.

You can’t knock his commitment, but considering we thought we signed one of the best defenders in League One, he’s been a huge disappointment.

Verdict: Miss!

Reece James

Controversial, but James has been fairly consistent throughout the season and has played more games than both Bryan Oviedo and Denver Hume put together.

He’s not everyone’s cup of tea and is, if I’m being frank, as average as they come, but as much as he rarely has an outstanding game, he rarely has a stinker.

He’s a sold 6/10 full back and has played his part in our promotion push adequately.

Verdict: Hit!

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Checkatrade Trophy Final Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Jerome Sinclair

Came on against Charlton on the opening day and made a huge difference, but then he got injured in the same game and looked nothing like the player we hoped he’d be.

Was sent packing in January and ends the season at Oxford United.

Verdict: Miss!

Lewis Morgan

He started off a little slowly, but the Celtic loanee has been consistently one of our better performers recently and his momentum has grown week on week.

Dangerous on the ball and capable of creating something from nothing, many Sunderland fans would be delighted if we could turn Morgan’s loan move into a permanent deal at the end of the season, regardless of which division we are in.

Verdict: Hit!

Will Grigg

Big money outlay with a minimal return - the facts and figures would indicate that the signing of Will Grigg from Wigan in January has been a bit of a miss.

That said I’ve noticed, like many other fans too, that Grigg doesn’t seem himself and there’s a huge question mark over his fitness. Is he simply just not fully fit?

There have been glimpses of the player we paid £3m for but, in the main, it’s just not been often enough.

Anyway, I’m going with my sensible head on this one and I’m going to say that now is perhaps not the time to judge if this particular piece of business has been a good one yet - Grigg’s record at this this level is great and maybe we’ll see better results from him not only in the play-offs, but next season too.

Verdict: Maybe...

Bristol Rovers v Sunderland - Checkatrade Trophy Semi Final Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Grant Leadbitter

Most of what Grant Leadbitter has done since returning back to Wearside in January has been done with a touch of class.

The experienced midfielder has massively improved our ability to score from set-pieces and whilst he’s not started as much in the last few weeks as he might have perhaps likes, I feel that he’s one of our most important players already.

Verdict: Hit!

Max Power

Maybe I’ve been slightly harsh on Max here, ‘cause there’s definitely a player in there, but since his first red card against Oxford United it feels like he lost a step and is only just starting to feel himself again.

If he’d been able to continue his good form from the early parts of the season he would have became one of our most important players throughout this campaign, but it’s hard for me not to be disappointed by Power’s overall contributions on the pitch.

Verdict: Maybe

Jimmy Dunne

The one position in the team that could have made the difference between automatic promotion and play-off uncertainty was central defence - and, unfortunately for Jack Ross, that’s probably been the biggest cause of headaches for him this season.

For Jimmy Dunne, he’s been average to poor and throwing a 21-year-old into a League One promotion scrap and expecting him to fix our defensive woes was probably too much of a stretch.

He’s been a miss, but I’d say some of that blame has to lie at the door of the recruitment team who brought him here.

Verdict: Miss!

Kazaiah Sterling

Why did we even bother?

The poor lad has barely played and has had to make do with fleeting late substitute appearances and, for the most part, has been left out of matchday squads entirely.

Verdict: Miss!

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