RR: So, Marc McNulty then. You referred to his time at Reading as a ‘nightmare’ - just what has gone wrong for him?
CF: McNulty was signed under Paul Clement and there was quite a lot of excitement around the deal, giving a lower league player a chance in the Championship. Reading had done it before with Dave Kitson and Adam Le Fondre and those signings paid dividends.
However, he struggled to settle in Berkshire and looked out of his depth on the pitch. He had a brief spell where he was linking up well with Sam Baldock but the two never really clicked and McNulty was snatching at the few chances he got.
Things went from bad to worse when he was eventually dropped from the team. New manager (Jose Gomes) came in and told him he had no future at the club. He was exiled to train on his own with another group of players before being loaned out to Hibs.
McNulty was prolific at Hibs but came back and was once again told to train away from the first-team and find a new club. He was determined to rejoin Hibs and the club tried several times to strike a deal but could not match Reading FC’s asking price (circa £1.5m).
He wasn’t given a fair run of games in the Reading side and therefore didn’t really have the chance to show what he can do - but both managers felt he wasn’t good enough for a run in the side, so who are we to judge!
RR: That aside, what sort of player are Sunderland getting - is he going to get us goals in League One?
CF: He’s a confidence player – he needs a run of games in a side. If he can get consistent game time and a couple of goals under his belt I’d back him to recapture the form he showed at Coventry.
RR: What would you say his biggest strengths as a player are?
CF: His strongest point for me is his positioning, he’s good at finding pockets of space. I can’t say his finishing is his strong point based on his time at Reading but if you look at his time at Hibs and Coventry then you’d have to say he’s a fantastic finisher.
RR: And what about his biggest weaknesses?
CF: He lacks pace and strength - he struggled with the physicality of the Championship and was bullied a lot.
RR: Overall, how to do view this piece of business, both for Sunderland as the buying club and Reading as the club cutting a player loose who has no future with them?
CF: If he finds the form he showed on loan and at Coventry in League One then Sunderland have got an absolute steal. If he struggles to settle and find the back of the net then it’s a risky piece of business. Fingers crossed it’s the former.