It’s important to give footballers a chance to redeem themselves after a poor run of form, and that is exactly what our very own Scottish p*** taking merchant has been given. Chris Maguire has worked hard in recent weeks, reinstating himself once again as a player we cannot do without.
The last four matches in particular have seen Maguire deliver the kind of form that we first saw from him at the start of last season. His energy and quality have been key ingredients in Sunderland’s recovery from the turn of the year onward. Four goals in the last four appearances, including the equaliser at Fleetwood and the winner at Doncaster, have seen Maguire move closer towards getting back to his best.
McDonald’s-Gate feels like a lifetime ago now. The image of Maguire and Aiden McGeady tucking in to some fast food after the 1-0 defeat at Gillingham was too much for many fans. It helped to effectively seal McGeady’s fate at Sunderland, though his overall attitude seems to have not helped his cause.
I don’t know much about footballing psychology, but if I was Chris Maguire I would have been concerned. With the risk of being frozen out of the squad potentially looming, Maguire has obviously knuckled down and become a vital part of our side once again, and it is great to see.
It’s not just his unique ability which we’ve missed during Maguire’s downturn in form - it’s his shithouse attitude. In Saturday’s 4-0 demolition of Wycombe Wanderers, he made himself known to Chairboys ‘keeper Ryan Allsop after smashing home the penalty for Sunderland’s third goal in 20 minutes. It’s an attitude which not enough of our players have, and when we have Chris Maguire on form, we have a player with swagger.
Our attackers are firing on all cylinders at the minute. What’s even better is that the goals are coming from across the pitch. Ten goals in the last four matches, including two from defenders, show that our side is playing with real confidence.
Chris Maguire is a player who can tear up most defences in the league - we have known this since the early days of his career on Wearside. If he can continue to keep showing Phil Parkinson and the fans what he is capable of, then he will be hugely important in the second half of the season. We have missed his attitude and what he can do for the team on the pitch - let’s hope that his return to form is more than just a flash in the pan.
With matches coming up against sides in and around the relegation zone, Maguire and the rest of Sunderland’s revitalised attackers will be given more opportunities to fill their boots soon, and to continue to chip away at the gap to the automatic promotion spots.