Last season we signed a player from Wigan Athletic who filled me with genuine excitement for the League One campaign ahead. With a solid record of both scoring and assisting at this level, Max Power was destined to be a lynch pin in a promotion winning midfield.
However, despite a good start, it didn’t quite work out.
Making his debut in the 1-1 draw against Luton Town, Power made a solid start to his Sunderland career, bagging his first goal in the 3-0 win over Scunthorpe during what was an impressive and commanding performance.
It looked like we had signed a player who was going to live up to expectation and who would continue his good record in the third tier. The following weeks we saw more of the same, until a run of dubious red cards put a dent his Power’s form.
The ex-Tranmere man saw red three times in eight games, including two sending offs in four games. The straight red against Walsall was overturned of course, which was at least something, but it still disadvantaged his side. Power was unavailable for half a dozen matches in the first half of last season.
His overly passionate approach was too hot for some League One referees, and the Max’s hotheadedness forced him to change his ways.
Unfortunately, this change in tempo to his game had a negative effect on Power’s contribution to the side. For me, he was half the player in the second half of the season compared to the first. As well as not getting stuck in as much as he once did, Power’s overall game and impact on the field seemed to suffer.
He was no longer a midfielder who picked up the ball and ran at the opposition or opened play up with a pinpoint pass. Power became a shell of the player we first signed, and we suffered because of this. He went from being a central part of Jack Ross’ side to rarely making an impact.
Despite making 47 appearances, the majority of these seemed to pass Power by. Now, it’s time for him to return to the form of the player we saw at the start of last season - and one of the new recruits on Wearside could in all likelihood help with this.
During Saturday’s loss to Heerenveen new man George Dobson and Power were paired together and looked good. If Jack Ross is going to properly adopt the 3-4-3 formation then these two most definitely threw their hats into the ring to line up alongside each other.
Dobson has been signed to provide our midfield with an outlet, someone who will run at the opposition and make himself a nuisance. This is the kind of player Power can be and has shown himself to be in the past. If Max is given the chance to sit slightly deeper - to have more time on the ball and dictate the game - then we will see him become a better player.
This is by no means a dig at Max Power. I think he’s a solid midfielder with a very good attitude. He was impressive at times last season and everyone on Wearside knows that he has the potential to return to this form. He’s a seasoned pro and will undoubtedly be a key part of what is hopefully a promotion season for Sunderland.
Whilst the centre midfield department looks somewhat crowded, Power is a player who should be given a start going into the new season. If he can rediscover some of his best form in the opening games of this season then it will be hard for anybody to take his place in the starting eleven.